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Ask HN: Why don't we seriously seek an alternative if we're unhappy with Google?
10 points by ax0ar 5 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 22 comments
I've been seeing at least 2-3 negative posts make it to the HN front page for the past few weeks. There are very obvious problems that have started to really grow, and it seems Google isn't able to or doesn't want to address any.

My broad question is, why don't we still have a very competitive search engine that can actually rival Google unlike Bing, duckduckgo or qwant.

Google is not just a search engine. When articles/commenters critique Google, they are usually criticizing the entity that oversees not just Google Search, but Maps, GMail, YouTube, Android, Chrome, and Google Cloud. Google/Alphabet's strength in each of these subsidiaries and services has a synergy that perpetuates its lead across those same subsidiaries and services. In other words, not only do most people find Google Search to be great, or at least very satisfactory, they like the convenience of it being mixed with Google Maps/Youtube (video search/Chrome, etc.

The other thing to consider is that "2-3 negative posts" on HN per day may not be indicative of anything, because it's not surprising that a company as massive as Google/Alphabet has a large share of discussion and controversy.

Alphabet has many successful products like Google, I'm aware of that. I'm specifically talking about Google as a search engine.

The company didn't start off making 500 different products when they first launched. Everything started with a search engine and all the other products came afterwards.

People need an alternative to search the web efficiently without using Google.

It would be great if a superior alternative existed but other search engines don't come close. I love Google Search and imagine every internet user in the English speaking world does.

What are the issues with Google search (other than privacy concerns) that are talked about at length?

> It would be great if a superior alternative existed but other search engines don't come close.

I disagree. I use DDG and vast majority of cases fall into one of two scenarios:

1. I can find what I'm searching for on

2. I can't find it neither with DDG nor with Google.

Typically the difference between them is that Google shows what I seek as the first result, while DDG shows it on the first page of results - that's pretty darn close if you ask me.

And then there are cases where DDG is actually superior to Google. A few times I couldn't find something on Google, but the "a few results were removed" message hinted that they don't show me some pages, most likely due to something like DMCA. Somehow DDG (probably because it is smaller and goes under the radar) would then often provide the results I was seeking.

> Typically the difference between them is that Google shows what I seek as the first result, while DDG shows it on the first page of results - that's pretty darn close if you ask me.

Pretty darn close according to you, but the reality is that for most people that difference is huge. The UX where you can just can trust the first link and don't have to scroll to consider each option is miles better.

It's the difference of getting the gold medal vs being in the Olympics basically. Both are great, gold is significantly greater though.

For all the complaints that google and facebook and others get for collecting all the info on you, the nice part is when you use them, they show you exactly what you want. A company that doesn't collect your search/view preferences just can't do that.

I hear that a lot; that other search engines are somehow inferior in quality. Having used DDG as default search for many years now, I have never felt like google offers me better results (Quite the opposite, actually). What exactly is it that makes google "better"?

I think this is a really tricky question.

Everyone searches in a different way and for different things. While I might easily find what I'm looking for on ddg, someone else might not.

I think the main reason why most search engines fail against google is because they haven't yet figured out in depth how and what people search for and what they find.

Google just has a better algorithm finding things. Peiple are happier using Google.

The fact that duckduckgo shows the favicons of the page next to the URL alone is a reason why I can't use google anymore. I got so used to it that I just feel lost and disoriented in front of a google results page. The easy customization is also a neat feature google lacks, mostly because of the dark background option.

Some people say google just has the better search results, but whenever I don't find what I want with DDG, I can just add !G to the search and it makes a google search out of it. In most cases though, google will be just as clueless.

And I could go on and on about why DDG > Google. The only reason people use google is that they're used to it. They say "to google something", not "to search the web for something". Google has become an integral piece of internet culture and that fact alone keeps it in use.

I made a site to let people find alternatives to Google this week called https://nomoregoogle.com

Nice job Pieter. By the way, isn't there a way people can email you?

I have tried to find an email of yours and couldn't find anything.

Yeah, I know about tweeting you, but I don't have an account, so...there you have it.

I don’t use email because it’s a time suck for me. I spend most my time building things and the time I have left I want to spend with people I love, not answering emails. Most emails I’d get would be about people wanting something from me (like doing partnerships) but I’m not interested. I’m content with my current state working solo. My revenue is OK, users OK too, so why would I need to answer emails?

This is great. Thank you.

We have been. Why haven't you?

I think the lot of us that are already exiting see no point in publicly-scolding Google. They aren't going to change their ways. It's just easier to move away from them. At some point, their critical mass will crumble and the stragglers will bail, too.

I think the only Google property I still willfully use is Gmail, and I've minimized my use of it until I find something to jump ship to (not looking for Fastmail or other recommendations).

Because change is hard, and most people have set their default search to google and won't take the action needed to change it.

I changed to DDG a few weeks ago, and though it isn't as good as Google for geo-search and a few other things, but for the most part it suits my needs.

But as YC always says, you need to be 10x better in order to get people to switch, and privacy isn't a big enough pain point at the moment for the general population to switch.

It may happen in the future, remember, we made the switch from AltaVista to Google because Google search results were so much better. It is VERY difficult to get better at search than google, but that is what it's going to take, or a VERY painful reason for people to switch.

Personally, the time and effort needed to make a total switch off of Google products and onto alternatives outweighs the concerns I have with Google.

Despite the numerous issues that are brought up, I still find value in their products. But then again, I'm not nearly as security sensitive as the majority of HN readers. If Google offered a yearly paid subscription in exchange for complete privacy and data ownership, I'd immediately do that - but in the meantime I think the amount of value I've squeezed out of their products is equal to the value they get from me as a user.

Back in 2009 when Bing was new, it was laughed at by the average user, and initiatives to build a user base with Bing cashback deals were seen as an admission of failure from the people that brought you IE.

Since then, Bing has grown significantly in search volume and ad revenue. While DDG likely can't reach Microsoft's market share as quickly, I see no reason why we it can't keep growing and help develop a competitive market for search options.

I do think DDG needs to approximate some of Google's knowledge graph features, like displaying weather and sports scores in an easy-to-read mini dashboard. I think that'd be one way for people (like me) to add it as a bookmark and create the habit of entering search queries into DDG as opposed to Google.

I think DDG invented showing results in mini dashboard! they have it for a long time.

> Ask HN: Why don't we seriously seek an alternative if we're unhappy with Google?

The people that are unhappy with Google do, with varying degrees of satisfaction.

The people that aren't, don't need to.

> My broad question is, why don't we still have a very competitive search engine that can actually rival Google unlike Bing, duckduckgo or qwant.

Plenty of people think one or more of those can rival Google as a search engine. But, that aside, earnest customer interest may support the kind of investment that can build something to rival the cute offering of one of the most successful corporations on the planet, but it doesn't produce it on its own and it doesn't happen overnight.

I have de-googled my life completely (Chrome->Firefox, Gmail->ProtonMail, Search->DuckDuckGo, Keep->Simplenote, Passwords->Bitwarden), other than checking in on my old gmail-address every once in a while, which is a minor thing, but the big things are Android and the Google Calendar.

If the Librem 5 turns out to be amazing I'm going to get one, but until then I will just have to use Android for better or worse.

As for the calendar there is just nothing that compares to Google's. A cloud calendar that synchronizes fast and with other apps like Mindbody for example. To my knowledge, there is just no alternative that even comes close.

Why do you say that ddg can't rival Google? I've been using ddg almost exclusively in the past several weeks. It was very difficult to switch, and I still don't exclusively trust ddg (sometimes I'll check Google to see if ddg is giving me good results), but the more I use ddg the less apparent is to me that I'm no longer using Google.

I want to focus on tracing back the problems to Larry/Sergey.

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