Side note, if they get bought out by a big player, I will feel like my use of them for the last year has been for naught.
>Side note, if they get bought out by a big player, I will feel like my use of them for the last year has been for naught.
I completely agree and at this point it's my main issue with DDG. I don't think their business model is sustainable, if they ever make it big the pressure to make more money will eventually corrupt their noble goals. After all Do No Evil used to be a thing at Google too and we see how that turned out.
I'd gladly pay a subscription to a good search engine to remove the need for ads and align the business model to the privacy goals, however I'm probably in a small minority here.
I think you're correct about it being a small minority, but I'm definitely there with you.
Even with their affiliate and advertising model (someone else linked it), I'd rather pay money to just have the site ignore all ad determination, affiliate linking, etc if it sees me logged in and my account paid up.
Of course, most people seem to be heavily trained to look for "free" and chastise anything subscription based, no matter how cheap/fair.
> ...there was little need for the company to raise more money. DuckDuckGo, which had a last known raise of $3 million in 2011, has been profitable since 2014.
It's been decades since you could do that for yourself. It must be something like 20 years ago on Alta Vista that I got burned using search queries as bookmarks and (surprise, surprise) suddenly not being able to find "that page" any more.
I believe the issue OP is addressing is that even given an identical index, two different users might see to entirely different search results, as their individual search history is factored into the query.
You will see this giant network of the same site that tries to sell you on e-pdfs
You could try opening an incognito window, although it could still give different results based on geo location.
Or user agent, or screen resolution, or Accept-Encoding / Accept-Language headers, or installed fonts, or installed browser plugins detected, or Do Not Track settings.
In other words the queries that google has good results for isn't a superset of the queries that ddg has good results for. It's just a different set.
I thought I'd give startpage.com a try (proxied google results without tracking), but besides being slow I realized I couldn't live without bangs anymore (and was also missing DDG's rich snippets).
I wish DDG had some kind of bang that tells it that I actually want to search for the query I entered, not some random query they think I might have wanted :/
edit: I should mention that after complaining about it on their subreddit, someone on the team said they are looking into it.
Also ddg doesn't have anything like Google scholar. Thankfully just a !scholar away, and faster on a slow connection than going to scholar.google.com.
Anecdotally, for every feature I’ve wanted of DDG, I’ve found an old post where someone on their team says they’re looking into it. For some I’ve found multiple posts, going back over a decade! Always the same “looking into it”.
I use DDG, but I put them in the category of companies too afraid to say “no, we won’t do that feature” or “we like that idea, but it’s low priority so we don’t know if we’ll ever get to it”. Whichever features they have, I use; the features they promise, I ignore.
! this is exactly what I want
then a way to keep it enabled by default
Try searching for “!w search engine”: DDG sends you straight to Wikipedia, which sends you directly to the relevant article. (Search “!bang” for more info about bangs.) When DuckDuckGo is your default search engine you can do this straight from your browser's address bar or OS's search field. It's very nice.
(I have no affiliation with DuckDuckGo; I just really like this feature.)
Tip: Type ddg.co/somequery in the address field to quickly get back to DuckDuckGo
Google generally has the best results but for 95% of searches they all find what I need.
But thing is, Google itself seems worse and worse to me. It seems to try harder and harder to decide what I want and only give me that - if X is associated with something topical, only topical links appear. And DDG and Bing follow this problem.
Back when Google started out, they bet the farm on the idea that more links pointing to a document meant that said document was informative.
These days though, i wonder if what we are looking for is more hair. That what we are looking for depends on a context that can't be properly included in the search terms used.
On top of this "naive" metrics like link counts are no longer a viable measure for what to elevate to the top of the search results.
e.g: When I type "pandas" or "kafka", I get the Python library and the streaming framework. I don't get cute black and white animals and a depressed novelist (what the average person would expect).
Never happens with tech jargon though.
DDG gives me a decent mix of results about both Apache and Franz (not only the Wikipedia entry, a variety of books/articles/etc as well).
For instance, a certain startup I worked for in the past used a military blog seemingly belonging to a web of Eastern European entities to link to our company website and the CEO advertised it on linkedin....it was pretty fucking embarassing tbh but it was oviously for gaining SEO juice. It worked for a while but now when I search for the same keyword I don't see it in the SERPs.
I don't see them truly competing with big budget search engines, but it's probably easy enough to make decent money from keyword ads and if you can sell the brand, you can get enough users to cover a smaller machine footprint and R&D budget that's orders of magnitude smaller.
The results are probably not awful (I don't use it). Result quality gets exponentially more difficult as you try to push that boundary, so you can probably get 80% of the quality there with 1% of the investment. The results may be good enough for plenty of folks, but I highly doubt they will ever be better than the big budget search engines.
On the other hand, that is not the criteria for them to be successful, because they are already better on a different metric: Privacy.
I find that 90% of my queries are just "who is that person?" or "what is that thing?". Those queries can be answered by DDG just as well as Google. So I'm not giving up anything, but gaining privacy. More importantly, I'm (subtly) sending a signal to the market that I find privacy is important.
Even on the 10% of queries that are complex, DDG does "good enough". I sometimes wonder if Google has the results sorted better, but I'll gladly waste a few minutes here and there in exchange for privacy.
You could do both privacy and good search results without using DDG: startpage.com
You can also have at least as good privacy (better in my opinion) and better search results (again, in my opinion) with other search engines: qwant.com
What is it those two examples doesn't have that DDG does have? The evangelist feel of DDG really turns me off and I'm sure it scares many off from ever looking at it. It is a bit like listening to Apple fans talking about Steve 'The Juice' Jobs.
Sure Google had a vastly superior algorithm but I don't think too many people really grasped that at the time.
That's why I used Altavista before that. Google kept things very simple while other sites loaded on the bloat and garbage.
I don't remember ever feeling like what I found with Google couldn't be found with Altavista or lycos. But a lot of the other companies tried to prematurely monetize to an excessive degree.
I think the difference in algorithms matters even less now, and that google’s modern advantage is not in ranking algorithms but in automated display of structured data, like sports league results, filmography for an actor, etc., and work around knowledge graph methods to automate that stuff.
Early google was unequivocally only differentiated by branding and sparse design.
It wasn't just the simplicity. Google was also a lot faster, and had no ads!
How ironic that advertisement later became their bread and butter.
I think the vast majority of users don't consciously evaluate search engines for accuracy. And most non-technical users just assume that if they cant find it through X, its probably not there.
Google invested in the fundamental from the start and they pushed the limit of what search engines can do.
When I was in my first role as an IT manager, I set the policy that all machines had their default page set to google.com away from Yahoo, because yahoo was an ugly mess.
Google was clean and simple. This was the only reason. I made the edict to set it to google and so some people said "you should go work for google since you like them so much" - man I wish I had tried to do so then.
And this was in 1998 or so...
The main reason? "And" searches. Brilliant.
Then Google showed up, and Google had PageRank. Boom, the top result for any simple query was what you wanted.
I don’t see why I should sacrifice my privacy for google to provide me with a single interface for these few sites, especially when DDG does it without mining all my info.
And I'm just discovering a bunch of other ! commands that make DDG significantly more useful that Google (eg !esen).
sqlite3 ~/.mozilla/firefox/*default*/places.sqlite "select substr(p.url,9,14) as search_backend,count(1) from moz_places p where p.url like 'https://duckduckgo%' or p.url like 'https://%.google.%/search%' group by search_backend;"
So... I guess that means I don't really need google for search?
Wikipedia should be able to search itself better than any external entity, but cannot. Wikipedia, in effect, is blind to its own data, and can deliver less insight into it's own content than multiple external Search entities.
If I use https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Search for anything, I get weaker results, than if I use search engines to locate wikipedia articles according to the same input string.
There's something wrong with that.
But, contrast that to Facebook, and the concept becomes more interesting. Facebook's search utilities are similarly unsatisfying, despite the massive resources of the company. This is probably not a blind spot, but more about the level of quality provided, for free-tier, unprivileged user utilities. Advertisers probably gain better reach, but perhaps without knowing exactly who they reach. Facebook's search tool can't be used to discern the capabilities or qualities of one or more of the indices Facebook uses to negotiate the landscape of their data.
I disagree, I think Wikipedia is akin to a collective blog where people just dump information to. Indexing is hard enough that it becomes a full-time job to do it well, and that takes time and money.
Search is so hard that external search is necessary for many websites to exist outside of a void. If we expect blogs to have their own searching functionality, we end up with a collection of disjoint webs, and that would basically kill the web as we know it.
Definitely my favorite feature of ddg.
I was in the same boat with !gi but DDG image search is increasingly relevant, and is not infested by Pinterest results. DDG increasingly feels like home the way Google Search did years ago.
I hope DDG can keep improving, and I do feel like it's a worthy alternative now. I do wonder how they can keep making money with no advertising or paid services, but if they were to be bought out by a big player, I think they would quickly lose much of their user base.
As I'm German, that's actually where DDG has the advantage over Google. Most of my searches are in English, but sometimes I want to search for something here, with DDG that's just a single press of a button and I get German results. With Google I'd have to do multiple clicks.
Not as handy as the DDG location switch, but still a sometimes useful hack.
Also they have advertisements, but unlike Google they are not targeted to you, hence making them less competitive for advertisers. Hopefully, this will not prevent them from growing in the future.
In fact, many, many times DDG gives me better results than Google.
Guess it's logical because even if the search algorithm of DDG is pretty neat, they can't compete yet with Google army of crawlers that probably use every idle computing power of their massive cloud.
Its maintainer stopped using it, and when it recently broke he started recommending a random fork from a user with no open-source presence that hasn’t made any update since. As for the live version, it’s now working thanks to some other random twitter user. The whole transition was a rush job.
I’m not saying those people aren’t trustworthy. What I am saying is that we don’t know, because the maintainer of DuckDuckGoog did not care enough to make sure the project would be left in good hands.
I've also been using DDG as a main search engine for a while and feel the similarly. Even more, for some queries I subconsciously assume that DDG won't find the result I want and resort to Google before I even search. Examples of such queries are complex programming questions etc.
This might be more energy than you're willing to expend, but just in case you were not already aware: there is a feedback icon in the bottom-left(!!!) corner of the page through which you can let them know about your bad experience. My interest in doing that is that in my life it is unreasonable to expect change without letting the other party know of your discontent.
I gravely wish it was just a one button sad-face, but at least it exists. I also would have previously guessed they could have used the presence of `!g` as a proxy for the sad-face, but that's certainly not true if users are preemptively `!g` based on an assumption about the results instead of trying the search first.
I've been using this greasemonkey script as a workaround, but I'd love to have an official solution.
You might want to try Bing as well. Sometimes it can surprise you, although I haven't used it as extensively as the others.
BTW, those bangs are great anyway! Can't live without !hn, !sr, !a, !w, !@
Or !s for Googling with less Google?
On mobile, typing "!g" takes 7 actions (including the focus, space and enter). DDG should make a button for it, below the search results, so you can easily revert to Google if you didn't find what you were looking for.
Honestly, without this button, I doubt if I will ever start using DDG much.
Having this button will make me use DDG more, not less.
"!g" is a fallback, not a default action. Seems to me pretty reasonable. Using it you're actually skipping ddg, not using it.
Reasons I use DDG exclusively:
- I prefer their business plan. Keyword ads still appear on search results page, but I am not psychographically modeled and retargeted after I close the browser session.
- It performs fast and I like the visual appearance.
- No AMP results. (Google does not give you a way to disable AMP, at all, which surprised me. I do not like AMP because it does not feel right on iOS.)
- It integrates Instant Answers and has surprised me with some Stack Overflow/Superuser excerpts.
- Mobile search is now geo-aware (again, crucially, in a way that does not build a ad targeting profile on me over time).
- The scale of the company is smaller and the CEO seems like a real, reachable person.
This makes perfect sense. Show an ad related to what a person is interested in and looking at. When I did adsense stuff a long, long time ago, I seem to remember that Google would request a copy of the page, and then tailor the ads to the content of the page. There was absolutely no interest at all in "Who" was looking at the page. It seems to me there is still a tremendous amount of money that could be made with only that use case.
I hope that is true, but I have my doubts. Google must have given some thoughts to that issue and decided to switch their targeting to the "who" for a reason, if the previous model was more profitable they simply would have stuck with it I suppose.
Plus there's no AMP junk in the results!
And links are real links — when you copy them you get the URL, not some huge tracking string.
Occasionally I've felt like I'm not getting good results so have gone to Google to repeat the search. There hasn't yet been a case where that's helped, so I've stopped doing it.
From a buiness IP address - "searching from: small business park, tiny region, city outskirts". "Google would like to know your location: allow/deny".
You'd like my permission to know it, while making it perfectly clear you already know. Creeps me out, like a Hollywood film mob intimidation tactic.
now i am back to google on desktop as well. it is markedly better than DDG for the searches I'm doing anyway.
Settings are on the right, other settings, disable auto-load.
I was in my office (my geoIP was still US) where dozens, maybe hundreds, of Germans work. I wonder if that had anything to do with it but I'm not sure how.
Is there a bang for the type of query answer we are looking for?
Such as for 'Ruby gems' I can use !dev so the engine knows to ignore sites like Ruby Gemstone and focus on dev only.
I know there is !so and !gh, but I am looking for something that dynamically combines them and other dev resources as they fall in and out of search favor.
Now that's not working well anymore, google is ignoring 2 of 3 keywords to give me a general answer.
And even the search tricks, such as using "" don't work as before.
I think google is using far too much AI in the search is ruining it for me.
I may switch to something else soon.
Almost always, at least in my cases, removing keywords makes the resultat useless. I would rather have a blank page say "Sorry, no results".
While DuckDuckGo searches have clearly improved over time, Googles have become worse. I still think Google is better overall, but they're moving in the wrong direction.
Perhaps there is a different class of user that this is useful for.
If only there was a way to disable it. Some sort of "advanced" mode.
I think that about sums it up. Google got very good at personalising search. They got very good at answering questions with widgets on their pages, a reader's digest of the web.
They got worse at objective search.
I almost never find those small-scale sites with great content anymore.
While it doesn't have quite the same effect  as the double quote marks, you could select the 'Verbatim' option  from the search tools menu.
I think google is set to work for the majority of people and it's failing the way I use it.
I am looking for something that I can signal to DDG to only/prefer dev sites.
If anyone is curious this is the site to look up your !bangs.
A few months ago I was hacking some Java code (or a java DSL. Something I had never worked in before) and it had these bangs or at-marks in front of some keywords.
It was nearly impossible to search for what it did, since all search engines would ignore those in my query.
I just want a way to signal DDG to prefer dev websites over nondev. DDG doesn't bubble us so it doesn't know I only want dev sites with certain queries and we keep naming projects after common terms. (Ruby, Python)
Thus !dev would be a good idea.
I guess it could be a good idea for dev.duckduckgo.com or duckduckgo.com/bangdev to be an option in search drop down, but honestly how often do people select alternative searches vs typing it in or !g'ing it?
But for the past 3-4 months, it's been my default. Haven't felt the need to use Google Search even once!
Big props to Gabriel Weinberg and team!
I stayed with DDG because: 1. !bang is addictive, and 2. Dark mode.
Also, early on I had some thoughts on how to improve DDG, so I emailed the owner and he responded thoughtfully. I can't imagine that happening with Google.
And I often use the QR feature to quickly send links to my phone.
I wonder just how profitable it is, and how soon would it be able to return the investments. A high investment load means that a company strives for an exit. I won't like DDG to be bought by whatever party.
Thus, however successful DDG will be, at least it will have supported quite a few other projects in its wake.
I tried Google search recently and found its results are less relevant and presented in an awkward form where I cannot copy result's URL (searched for a technical paper). DDG is clear winner.
Neither of them shows direct URL to search results, https://duckduckgo.com/l/?... is no better than https://www.google.com/url?...
In DuckDuckGo, you do the same search and also get the same top result, but when you copy the link location for that top result you get this: https://news.ycombinator.com/
I’m getting https://duckduckgo.com/l/?kh=-1&uddg=https%3A%2F%2Fnews.ycom...
Update: in Firefox I'm indeed getting https://news.ycombinator.com/
But I use MS Edge as primary browser, and for MS Edge, DDG returns me the above redirection URL.
I’ve switched off the setting and tested with web debugger. Apparently MS Edge respects the “referrer-policy: origin” HTTP header i.e. it only sends “Referer: https://duckduckgo.com/” without query strings attached.
However, duckduckgo treat MS Edge the same way as IE, i.e. it doesn’t believe it’s not an older browser. I’ve wrote their support, hopefully they’ll fix soon. Meanwhile, I’ve switched off “Redirect (when necessary)” setting and it works OK on this PC.
The modern SV economy seems to be built around $100M seed rounds and valuations in the low billions, pre-launch.
Also I don't see how that negates the fact that they are doing a fantastic job against a company that's is much bigger, more powerful, more experienced and with an incredibly larger budget.
The spam-filter is terrible but the support actually answers you.
I chose fastmail over proton or tutanota because they’ve been around longer and charge everyone money. Maybe I’m paranoid but I don’t trust free as in beer very much anywhere. + none of my mails would actually use the encryption.
Example: if I search DDG for "Worcester" (a significant city near my home in south-central England), 28 of the top 30 results are Worcester, Massachusetts.
There is a toggle at the top of the page where I can choose "United Kingdom". That fixes it. But the default should be "worldwide" or "localised by IP address", not "US".
Or, put another way: does "[chain name] grubhub [zipcode]" still do what you are describing?
Heh, as one might expect, "there's a bang for that" which will save you two characters: https://duckduckgo.com/bang?q=grubhub
DuckDuckGo needs to hire a Frontend wizard that will address all the issues with load speed and hopefully make it quicker than competitors.
might be faster for you
For research though I switched to Yippy. Their business model is selling replacements for Google Search Appliance which is at EOL in a couple of months. So they can sustain themselves while providing a free search tool.
I am happy to have an alternative to google search even if the effect is too small to be measured.
The list goes on and on. Duck-Duck-Go is just a poorly thought through name and the fact it's 3 syllable just makes it worse. At least with Instagram you can abbreviate it (ins-ta).
Also, I miss pagination of results pages :(
I tested DDG vs Yandex/Google/Bing and I'm pretty sure Yandex acts as "main" (if not "single") search provider for my language (or whatever heuristics DDG uses). For some senseless Ukrainian keywords Yandex shows almost identical to DDG results, while Google/Bing - mostly different.
In 2017 Yandex (among some other Russian companies) got ban in Ukraine and access to its services was blocked. Roughly at the same time Ukraine region have disappeared from DDG ("kl=ua-uk" URL parameter is still mentioned on search params page, but not working).
These events are likely connected. Furthermore, if DDG is just an aggregator, why a year later they can't switch to Google as local search provider and bring regional search for Ukraine back? Google local search results are at least as relevant as Yandex were. Or there are some hidden contractual obligations, partnerships, royalties directly from Yandex etc.? This looks unclear and suspicious to me.
Any competitor would have to prove credibility in the field, as they'd be trading on ethics.
I use DuckDuckGo exclusively - the only two reasons for me to stop I can see would be some kind of ethics scandal, or the quality of the search dropping dramatically.
I'm very happy with it currently.
Before founding duckduckgo, CEO Gabriel Weinberg ran Names Database. Names database was a social media site that collected personal information much more aggressively than any modern site that I'm aware of. This information was sold happily by Weinberg for about ten million dollars to classmates.com (a particularly controversial subsidiary of United Online) just two years before founding duckduckgo.
IME, inline results from third party sites (like StackOverflow, images, youtube videos, etc.) are pretty easy to notice when they're included and easy to tell where they came from.
It is not a question of privacy but rather a question of trust and bias. Of course YMMV.