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Google transferred ownership of Duck.com to DuckDuckGo (namepros.com)
1065 points by rahiel on Dec 12, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 410 comments

NamePros user, Thelma, made a good point:

> The story of Microsoft floating a significant loan to Apple in order to keep Apple solvent in the late '90's is well-known. Microsoft didn't do so out of altruistic impulse; they did so to decrease the odds they'd be the target of anti-trust legislation. I'm sure the c-suite at Google is very aware of that history lesson, and you'd be hard-pressed to find a more likely anti-trust target than Google. Alphabet was a proactive effort to stay ahead of that curve. This is another. It's also why I suspect they either gifted Duckduckgo the domain, or sold it at a modest price. Even if they squeezed Duckduckgo for every penny they could and maximized the duck.com sale price, that's a penny in the couch for Google, and of insignificant benefit, compared to the license to print money that they maintain as a monolith.

>...The story of Microsoft floating a significant loan to Apple in order to keep Apple solvent in the late '90's is well-known.

That might be well known, but it never happened. To resolve a patent violation and alleged stolen source code, Microsoft bought 150 million dollars of Apple stock. (There were other aspects of the agreement, but there was no loan.)

Your general point was likely right - Microsoft could have dragged out the trial for years and they likely didn't want to be seen as the only maker of OS software for personal computers.

Disclaimer: The following is based on my memories of working at Corel at the time. My memory is crap, so it is possible I've made mistakes. Please verify the authenticity of my claims if it is important to you and don't take my word for it.

At almost the exact same time, MS bought Corel Stock that enabled Corel to stay afloat. It was non-voting stock, but it had a veto on acquisitions (to reasonably protect their investment). They assured people that their didn't intend to use the veto and even worked with Corel to help them find companies to acquire with their new capital (one of them being a certain very cool artistic paint program, whose name I forgot).

Some time late, MS sold their Corel stock to Vector (VC company partly owned by Paul Allen) at a huge loss. Vector then told the Corel board of directors that they would exercise their veto on acquisitions unless the board authorised a buyout by Vector. The penalties on the acquisition deals would have put Corel under, so they had to agree. Vector bought out Corel at an attractive price. Derek Burney (then CEO of Corel), was replaced, but actually gave up his parachute clause in order to take a role as senior program manager as Microsoft. Most of the other senior VPs also managed to land roles at Microsoft. Vector admittedly ran Corel well and made quite a large profit by having a new public offering and selling 25% of the company. They were sued by previous share holders of Corel, but I didn't hear how that lawsuit ended up (I think the previous share holders lost).

I actually talked to Derek Burney about this stuff before he was ousted and he told me that he didn't have any choice in the way it went down. He said they were basically completely out of money before MS stepped in and that without MS's help, they were months away from completely shutting down. He didn't comment about the rest of how it worked out.

My assumption at the time was that the "investment" in Apple was intended to be a similar kind of operation, but that Steve Jobs was too canny to fall for it. I'd love to see all of the conditions attached to that money to see if I'm right.

I don't follow the scheme here. What are "penalties on the acquisition deals"? This all seems rather roundabout when it's dependent on the company being close to insolvency anyway, so they could have just bought them outright to begin with if that was really their master plan.

I'm guessing Corel was in the middle of an acquisition that had a back out penalty. If the acquisition was vetoed, the back out penalty would have bankrupted Corel. Sounds like blackmail to me.

In order to buy a publicly traded company outright, you need to get permission from the board. This is just the machinations to get that to happen -- at a price that they wanted.

Is this not just a classic example of HN looking for the negative in every positive? Apple was on the brink of bankruptcy and MS pushed them off it. Conversely, DDG is nowhere near bankruptcy and although it may be easier to type, a shorter domain name is not going to drastically increase the competitive edge that DDG has over google. To me they seem in totally different categories.

> Is this not just a classic example of HN looking for the negative in every positive?

A company single-handedly helping to save a direct competitor defies all business logic and obligations to shareholders of that company. The truth is this was a business move to benefit Microsoft, even though it had a benevolent factor to it.

Thinking otherwise is overly optimistic, similar to how you believe it being a classic example of HN pessimism.

DuckDuckGo is hardly a competitor to Google. I struggle to think of some future scenario where Alphabet looks back and thinks "Damn, we never should have given DDG that domain name, it was all down hill from there!". No antitrust investigation is going to believe that this small action makes any difference to Google's total dominance of search.

There is nothing illegal about a monopoly. A monopoly that uses it's position to prevent competition is illegal. Giving DDG a very valuable domain name (given their name) absolutely does what you're saying it doesn't.

How is not giving the domain name to DDG using their monopoly to suppress competitors? This is not equivalent to say, removing DDG from their search results.

I don't think that's what they're saying. The point isn't that withholding the domain name is the end of the world, the point is that handing it over is a small token that Google can use to claim that they aren't anti-competitive. I don't know what my stance is on that interpretation, but that seems to be (to me) to be the intended interpretation.

Does that make sense?

That's not what they're saying. If/when the feds come after Google for (most likely unrelated) monopolistic suppression, Google can say "we don't suppress our competitors--look how we helped out DDG!"

I agree in the case of Microsoft/Apple. In Google/DDG we're talking about transferring a domain name from one company to another, not saving a direct competitor.

I accept that MS/Apple was a competitive move. I’m not sure I accept that duck.com is.

What you described does defy all business logic... except in the presence of regulatory externalities (anti-trust legislation) that causes the business move to be a net positive.

I don't think there's any optimism or pessimism to it, just rational actions.

At the time, Microsoft made more on application software for every Mac sold than for every PC sold. Microsoft and Apple were competitors on operating systems, but not on applications, and Apple's Macs were a significant (though smaller) part of the market. The relationship between Apple and Microsoft was never as simple as just direct competitors.

> Is this not just a classic example of HN looking for the negative in every positive?

No. Google has the monopoly on search (outside of China). Avoiding anti-trust is a huge concern of theirs. Look at MS and IE in the browser wars - they were forced by the EU to build into Windows links/ads to the other browsers - see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BrowserChoice.eu#/media/File:B...

Whilst DDG has huge momentum by now, duckduckgo.com is still an ache to type - that's why ddg.co has existed for years, and why you use "DDG" yourself ;) duck.com is way more memorable and even faster.

Not a lawyer, but given DDG's brand recognition, I'd imagine they would have a strong case in an ICANN dispute given that Google are not using it. Google are proactively avoiding at least this bad PR by doing the right thing (this week).

> No. Google has the monopoly on search (outside of China).

No. Russia has yandex.

[1]: http://gs.statcounter.com/search-engine-market-share/all/rus...

How is having the duck.com dns a trust issue? Google could just as easy create some purpose for it and ddg would have a hard time proving that a domain that does not have its product name to be inflicting monopoly.

Conversely, how does transferring the domain helps Google on court? If they are a monopoly, then surely it isn't because of naming.

(I do defy the affirmation that Google has a monopolity at all - Bing and ddg are likely alternatives that anyone can use - it's very different from, let's say, IBM mainframes... But I'm no expert in antitrust laws)

If Facebook owns groups.com but aren’t using it, can we go to ICANN and ask them to give it to us?

ddg.gg is easier to type and for my fingers to remember than duck.com.

How about duck + (Ctrl + enter) ?

That could work =).

It’s not only looking for the negative. It didn’t happen.

Whatever the reason, MS only infused $150 million into Apple’s coffers.

Apple turned around and used $100 million to buy PowerComputing’s Mac license. Apple also continued to lose money for 3 years. The Net $50 million didn’t “save Apple”.

I hadn't heard that bit of history, found it interesting. Though apparently they spent $10mm in cash and $90mm in stock to acquire the company.

They could have sold it for $1 with a clause stating that ddg wouldn't partake in any antitrust action brought by any foreign government for 2 years. Value to Google would be worth tens or hundreds of millions in potential fines or revenue risk.

Then DDG obviously would have just said no? I think the idea is that it was a political move meant to show a sense of goodwill between the two to the public, not to force DDG to be subservient to them in some way.

That's why I put two years. I don't think any company would agree to a longer term.

Damn, that makes it seem like less of an olive branch and more of a cover-your-ass move. Either way, it's still a boon to DDG! (or just D?)

Good point. Mozilla also received (still receives?) a substantial amount of money from Google, no doubt that achieves similar goals -- prop up a competitor -- although it also helps Google make their search engine the default for Firefox users.

You're hedging way more than you need to in this comment. They get a crapload from Google.

Mozilla brings in revenues in excess of half a billion dollars per year. The royalties alone are in excess of half a billion per year.

Note that the most recent figures we have are from 2016 when Mozilla was on the Yahoo money. The 2018 won't be available for a couple years, but it should hint towards how much the new Google contract brought in. And the intermediate one should show the blip of the Pocket acquisition along with figures sugared by the kickbacks that Mozilla originally lied about not receiving. (Spoiler alert: Mozilla themselves eventually admitted that the info was untrue with regard to not benefitting directly from the Pocket partnership. Just a proviso for anyone who wasn't following along closely and might assume that I'm making baseless conjecture. These are facts.)

I was thinking the same thing. Thanks for pointing it out.


NamePros tech admin here. This hammered our servers so hard that we actually uncovered a fairly obscure bug in Nginx's FastCGI caching. It's gone unnoticed for years, including during rigorous load testing.

Nginx has had some strange bugs under heavy load. Way back in the day, reddit used Nginx as its frontend webserver/load balancer. All of a sudden one day I noticed that it was sending 99% of the traffic to the app server listed first in the config, then 99% of the remaining traffic to the next one, and so on down the line, such that the last app server in the list (only about 10 at the time) was essentially getting no traffic. If I changed the config, the traffic pattern was still based on the config order, so it wasn't a bug in the hashing or the numerical values of the IPs of the app servers or anything like that.

Never did figure out what caused that problem. We just switched out Nginx for Haproxy and never had a problem again. :)



Uncivil comments will get you banned here. Please review https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html and follow the rules when posting to HN. That means commenting civilly and substantively, or not at all.

More details please. :-) This sounds like it deserves a full article.

It probably does. It'll take me a while to dig through the source to find the cause, but preliminary evidence suggests that fastcgi_cache_key doesn't handle $cookie_* variables correctly. If the cookie doesn't exist, it seems to result in a unique key every time. (Edit: The workaround is to assign the $cookie_* variable to another variable and then use that in fastcgi_cache_key.)

If anyone is curious what sort of increase in traffic you should expect from a link to your site appearing on HN, we're getting about 230 additional backend requests per second--that doesn't include anything cached by Cloudflare. You can monitor it in realtime here: https://www.nameprosstatus.com/

nice live stats monitor, can you link a short short postmortem analysis under that, shortly? Thanks!

Yup, it'll be on there once I finish debugging.

Edit: I'm having trouble reproducing it in a controlled environment, so a proper post mortem is probably going to have to wait for another day.

true that, some corner cases only appear in the wild and very hard to reproduce as we don't really know what caused them, anyways, keep us updated.. ;)

Nice! Now DuckDuckGo needs to just change their name to Duck Search and it can be used as a verb.

No longer will you have to say "Did you DuckDuckGo it?" and can instead say "Did you Duck it?".

Even on the domain alone I will use Duck more since I won't have to type in the full DuckDuckGo.com domain.

I _feel_ like this could really bring some measurable growth to Duck search. I _feel_ like I certainly will use it more and talk about it more. Time will tell.

My iPhone is constantly autocorrecting "fucking" to "ducking" no matter how many times I write the former and never write the latter, so this could be a huge thing.

Me: "Ducking Donald"

Siri: "Duck Search found a McDonald's two blocks away, should I reserve you a table?"

Settings > General > Keyboard > Text Replacement. Add a new entry, phrase “fucking”, shortcut blank. Ta-da!

lol @ reserving tables at McDonald's.

If you search Google Images for "romantic dinner at McDonalds", you get some fun results.


>When many lower-income Americans are feeling isolated by the deadening uniformity of things, by the emptiness of many jobs, by the media, they still yearn for physical social networks. They are not doing this by going to government-run community service centers. They are not always doing this by utilizing the endless array of well-intentioned not-for-profit outreach programs. They are doing this on their own, organically across the country, in McDonald’s.

My partner and I use "let me quack that" instead of "let me Google it".

Heh. That works really well in English.

(Wondered if I could use this in Dutch too, but decided against it due to the seminal connotations of ‘kwak’…)

You'd likely be able to recognize DuckDuckGo users by their black eyes.

I would say red eyes instead because of sleepless nights spent tweaking their Linux installation ;)

Finally, someone will actually mean to type "ducking," and it won't just be autocorrect.

I envy anybody whose autocorrect suggests swearing.

For me it’s a constant battle of teaching and reteaching it the different manners of expressing passion and frustration. That’s the one thing I liked about Google’s keyboard on Android: that you could enable “sailor-mouth mode”. They called it something boring though like “Suggest profane words”.

On less used languages their filtering doesn't work. I tried writing "she was rubbing her eyes" and the only suggestion I got after typing "she was rubbing" was clit, even after writing the sentence multiple time, clit was the only suggestion.

I never wrote she was rubbing her clit on my phone. I swear.

Checkout swiftkey. Mine actually tries to correct ducking to fucking.

That’s what you meant to say though right?

Finally, we'll be able to tell people to go Duck themselves while in polite company.

> ...I won't have to type in the full DuckDuckGo.com domain.

You can also use ddg.gg.

Thanks wasn't aware of that.

Anyway, I use the Firefox "smart bookmarks" (I don't know if it's the correct name), i.e. naming the bookmark search, so "gg foo" is for searching foo on Google, "dd bar" is for searching bar on DuckDuck, "w baz" is for Wikipedia, "dbts #number" is for the "Debian bug tracking system" and so on...

I have ddg as my default search engine in firefox, so by default my searches go to ddg. If I want to use google instead, I just add "!g" to some part of the search query and ddg will do its magic and do the same search on google. These are called bangs: https://duckduckgo.com/bang

Nice, I wasn't aware of this feature. "Smart keywords" is the correct name. https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/how-search-from-address...

Sadly, good domain alone doesn't make it too famous.

I think name change must be done. The name is too weird to go mainstream. Think of international customers too. I don't think I want to introduce it to my non English native parents, maybe they'll think it as some weird game.

"Did you duck it?" sounds like asking if one dodged it.

Yea, seems like a great oppertunity for a re-branding around this domain.

Be careful about asking "Did you Duck yourself?" though.

How about you go duck yourself?

I totally agree with you.

This is cool and I hope it leads to a rebranding. While I like DDG a lot, the name has always felt off-putting to me. I'd much rather say "I'll just search Google" than "I'll just search DuckDuckGo."

Does an extra syllable really cause that much additional friction?

Also, rather than saying “Google it” maybe we can now say “Duck it”.

I can't wait to start saying "Go Duck yourself", and have it meant to be a request / complement to search your own name.

"Let me duck that for you" might get a few doubletakes.

Let's start saying "duck off" to the ill-informed

duck.com will surely inspire the sick dolan[0] crowd

[0] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ed3-vC2z7hI

"ducking the issues" would finally be a good thing

Suggested title of blog post announcing change: "Duck Yeah!"

I rarely use the term "ducking" in conversation, though auto-correct thinks otherwise. Maybe now I will.

"I was ducking around and found a few good resources for fixing the OSPF problem."

Finally auto correct of "ducking" from the ruder alternative will make sense.

"I spent the day ducking around on the internet"

In Trinbagonian dialect, "ducking" is the act of skipping work/school.

See: https://youtu.be/2qunog47EVo for musical reference.

"Ducking" is also a term used in audio mixing. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ducking

"Are you good at ducking mate? Let's party!"

"duck" is also used often in the context of not giving an answer (e.g. "duck the issue"), which is an unfortunate connotation for a search engine.

Also is in the UK - esp 'Duck Out' - to step out of a meeting or situation.

This is the best ducking thread on the internet today. Well done all.

If you use !bangs, its a duck hunt.

D and F are are a little too close for comfort on the 'ol qwerty.

I’m feeling ducky

I came here for this. Not disappointed.

The obvious auto-correct problems on iOS devices will be amazing for marketshare expansion.

Some might be partial to "I'd Duck that"

I just say "web search it." Same syllables as Google. Devoid of any brand preference.

Same syllables sure but there has to be a hard stop between the two syllables since b and s can’t be strung together.

The two words can be strung together just fine in English. Think of the word "rub", then "rubs", then "rubs search", then "rubsearch". The final 'b' in "web" is indeed pronounced differently when linked to the word "search".

For more discussion see:



Page 10 of http://www.ling.hawaii.edu/faculty/donegan/Papers/201Xhistph...

They can but it's more difficult on a muscle level. You have to change the position of your tongue quite a bit to alter the airflow transitioning from the bilabial plosive to the sibilant, versus "Google" where you can almost say the G-L transition without moving your mouth; just a very slight adjustment of your uvula and tongue can produce an understandable sound.

Try saying "web search" without moving your mouth. Now try saying "google" without moving your mouth.

It is not normal English for a "b" at the end of a word to get assimilated into the "s" at the start of the word.

(Note also that when you say "rubs", the "b" is not getting assimilated - it's the "s" that is getting assimilated into a voiced "z")

The best Ducking search engine available.

My phone's autocorrect would love this. :D

That's absolutely hilarious and I love it.

In casual conversation, "DeeDeeGee it" is so much more clunky.

In U.S. Navy and NATO jargon, "DDG" is the designator for guided-missile destroyers (warships) [0]. So you could say "destroy it" ....

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guided_missile_destroyer

Interesting! I had no idea.

I can how that would be abused, as in: go duck yourself

Edit: somebody beat me to it.

I’ll Duck Hunt it

Duuckle it!

Haha, yes!

It's not the number of syllables, it's the particular flow of those syllables and the number of full stops. I'm sure there's a linguistic term for what I mean. Consider "I'll just Googlify it" or "I'll just Dodogo it", which both sound better than "I'll just DuckDuckGo it".

The linguistic term is actually just a "stop", though you can use occlusive or plosive to sound fancy: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stop_consonant

Perhaps also a case of the Bouba/kiki effect (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bouba/kiki_effect) - people assuming the nature of words because of how they sound.

You could also say, "I'll just duckduck it"

Just duck it.

I just say "I'm going to search for x" now and avoid the company name entirely.

Although as noted by a person responding here "I'll duck it" wouldn't be bad.

"Google it" kinda came out organically. But it was very cringy when Microsoft forced to popularize the term "Bing it" and did product placements in TV shows and movies.

Example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nfHuZ5qrYX4

I'm not sure how regional this is, but at least around the North of England that'd be interpreted as someone saying they were trying to avoid something.

English is not my native language, but I think this is universal. I also think that's why the GP likes the phrase.

DDG will never reach some groups without a rebrand. I once installed Firefox on my folks's PC and changed the browser to DDG. My mum opened it instead of Chrome by mistake and said something like

> WTF is this duck thing? Where's Google?

I think that wouldn't have happened if it had a more serious name.

Eh. People mocked Google's name when they were gaining dominance. "Sounds like baby noise, not a serious company" seemed to be the dominant take of those with that view at the time.

I think there's something to three-word names being less memorable than shorter ones, especially when there isn't a clearer hint to function built in.

That said, my two-year old loves the yellow Cyberduck icon on my desktop Mac, and asks me to make it bounce (i.e. launch it from the Dock) whenever he sees it...

Judging from the Wii and the iPad, people will get used to any brand name, no matter how ridiculous it sounds initially.

Whats hard about saying "Its a search engine like google, only it doesn't track you. Try it."?

In terms of names it's the GoDaddy of search engines.

Except GoDaddy actively tries to maintain that perception, while I don’t see DuckDuckGo doing the same.

I didn't understand that.

GoDaddy manages to seem even more of a cheesy web 1.0 company than they are because of the name. It's like a TV ad company for the whole family, not something a programmer would find pleasing to behold.

> It's like a TV ad company for the whole family

I thought it was more of a sleaze connotation than a family one.

There's just something about "Daddy" in a company name I can't get over.

To me GoDaddy always sounded like the moniker a pimp would use.

i allways thought of it as a play on duck duck goose(which has some interesting connotations and in this context). it is good they got duck.com and makes sense in recognition and a simple and easy name is good to if thats there intent.

"watscheln" in german, "waddle" in english.

DDG is great - have been using it for months and I really enjoy the results. Google searches seem to be more of an echo chamber whereas DDG results seem to be more representative across a broad spectrum of sites.

To be honest I've never noticed the filter bubble everybody is talking about with Google. They can infer a lot from context, like city or previous searches, however that's primarily helping users, because coming up with precise search queries is not something that normal people can do and even power users like us fail at it.

I have been using DuckDuckGo because I'm making health related queries and I'm pretty scared of companies profiling me based on that.

But the experience with DDG has been worse, although it is definitely improving. And it's bearable, plus protecting my privacy is worth it.

> To be honest I've never noticed the filter bubble everybody is talking about with Google.

It's extremely obvious/bad when you try Googling some old article about an topic, often political, that has recently regained popularity.

You can try adding all kinds of words from the headline, certain terms will always lead to the results being dominated with "current news", like with Russia/Ukraine or more recently with China.

Which is made worse by the inability to specify a time-frame for the search. In that regard, the best Google can do is narrow it down to "last changed" with the extended search, which only goes as far back as "last year", anything further back than that and you might as well have to find the needle by manually looking trough the haystack of pages upon pages of search results.

It can be extremely frustrating how search results are seemingly dominated by the very same, handful, of articles offering only the very same takes, with only slight variations. It feels quite similar to how YouTube keeps recommending the same kind of weird videos to a large amount of people, like you are being "funneled".

You can specify a date range in Google btw. You click “tools” and then it will present a date option.

This is exactly what I do as well. Date range filter in on Google is excellent to find old news.

Unfortunately on mobile you can only use the date ranges that Google suggests (last hour, day, week, month, or year). Which is unfortunate since half the time I want to filter by date it's so I can exclude recent results.

I remember it being there, but for whatever reason, I was always looking for it under "extended search". Thanks for pointing me in the right direction!

To me, it seems all this long explanation is just posturing when a simple example would have proven your point.

The simple example here being how Google seems to prioritize "current news", particularly those clicked the most often, over actual search results.

Which from the outside feels very similar to how YouTube tends to "harmonize" it's dynamic playlists aka "mixes" to such a point that all of them end up being the same after the first 1-2 songs because everything after that seems to be strictly based on personalization and not the original song the mix was created on.

Prioritizing current news might be annoying, but it can't be a filter bubble, as we aren't talking of personalisation.

Basically I would be interested in a sample where say a democrat gets different opinion pieces versus a republican, on the same search query.

I feel that such samples could exist, but I haven't witnessed such instances in my daily use.

> Prioritizing current news might be annoying, but it can't be a filter bubble

Never said a thing about filter bubbles, but in a way, it feels like a self-reinforcing loop:

0 An article gets clicked often

1 Google ranks it higher in the results based on those higher click counts

2 It gets clicked even more often due to being ranked higher in the results

3 goto 0

Behavior like that might be fine when one is looking for something obscure technical to surface more relevant results.

But when it's applied to news articles it creates the impression of a bias/funnel as the top results will regularly consist of the same, slightly altered, headlines and conclusions. Which in part is probably the result of a lot of news-outlets just copy&pasting AP releases.

Note: I'm not saying this is done on purpose, it might very well just be a manifestation of the increased use of AI/ML where the end results often can't be properly explained/reasoned as the ML has become sort of a blackbox optimizing towards a given goal, like giving results that are more likely to be clicked.

> The simple example here being how Google seems to prioritize "current news", particularly those clicked the most often, over actual search results.

Funny how I still don't see two links: 1. Google search for a keyword 2. DDC link for the same keyword

As I said, it's posturing.

> To be honest I've never noticed the filter bubble everybody is talking about with Google.

Filter bubbles are personalized, so YMMV.

I agree that it might not be as bad outside the US, as in the US they have more data to analyze and I'm in the EU, being more interested in news related to the EU.

But if we exclude location as a factor, it's not much of an argument because I have the benefit of constantly using both Google and DuckDuckGo, where DDG is now the primary search engine and Google is the fallback.

If Google personalizes the results in a way as to bias the information based on my political views or whatever, that's not something I have noticed. And believe me, I'd like more ammo when I criticize Google, but this ain't it in my experience.

True, but I've often switched back and forth between Personal Results and Global Results and rarely see a difference.

Nice Kafka trap!

That's not what a Kafkatrap is. Though I suppose if one stretches the metaphor far enough...

I felt like Google only worked well for things I'd done extensive searches on in the past. Like once they collected enough data on me to know WHAT I wanted to know about that topic the search results were better. Otherwise they were not very good.

DDG feels like it gives me the same search results every time. Typically they are more helpful than google would have been early on but less helpful than googles were later on.

This is entirely anecdotal... Anyone else experience something similar?

If you're not a native english speaker working in tech, google will sometime show you (in my case) French forums or websites even if the query was entirely written in english. It is quite annoying, and i often get better results using ddg and !g than using google itself.

I have a similar problem sometimes.

When I'm in Japan, Google seems to try hard to give me results localized to Japan.

When I'm in the United States and need to get information about something in Japan, it can't cope with the fact that I'm not in Japan. Where Google thinks I am (even with location tracking turned off) is paramount. Even if I search google.co.jp, I get American results.

I have the opposite problem.

I'm Romanian and when searching in Romanian on DuckDuckGo I often get results in English, Spanish, Italian or French, because Romanian is a romance language.

Local searches are terrible on DDG.

I always made sure to log out of Google to avoid this issue, however after a couple of years using the Duck the main thing I notice when I end up on Google is how cluttered the search results have become. You have a bunch of widgets everywhere trying to give you "smart" results, related searches etc...

Usually when I search for something I don't care about any of that, I just want to see the organic matches, not "People also ask" and "People also search for" widgets that are of no value to me.

DDG only has the wikipedia widget (which I actually find pretty useful generally) and sometimes the video or image carousel at the top which is sometimes relevant and doesn't waste a lot of screen real estate. I hope it'll continue that way.

WRT the cluttered results, at this point I pretty much refuse to use Google search on mobile because it's so often that the results are presented on the most useless, cluttered web page I've seen from any major internet company. Abysmal, really. It's especially bad if searching for a product or movie or anything else that can be bought/sold.

> I always made sure to log out of Google to avoid this issue

Does this work? I was under the impression that had little to no impact on their tracking/suggestions for "personalization" purposes

I wouldn't say it's better than Google - it's a bit worse for non-English queries, and similar for English ones.

Both have in common that if they don't know the answer to your query, they assume they know better than you and give you unrelated results. I'd prefer if they'd just print "Can't find anything" and let me tweak my query instead of sending back random results.

It's difficult in general to know that the results you're returning are definitely not what the user wants. You're not seeing them think that they know better than you, you're seeing lower confidence results.

Perhaps search engines could just not show you lower confidence results, but then you risk making it impossible to find certains kinds of content, and you forgo the rarer, but still extant wins, you get from showing those results.

Users can generally tell when results aren't relevant and will reformulate anyway.

I agree. I switched to DDG years ago, and brought several people with me. I never have any problems finding what I need.

I’m as de-Googled as I can be. I caught a lot of slack (?) from some people over it. But it’s a relief for me.

Flak - exactly the word I was looking for, thanks all! I knew that didn’t sound quite right.


Yeah, I'd made two serious attempts at switching over the last few years, and only this last time have I stuck with it. Almost a year now on my phone and laptop. I still use Google on my work computer but might eventually switch that one too.

The main things I find myself still using the !g code for is news and maps. But for other searches I finally find I get just as good results.

As usual, I feel I need to point out that DDG gets all its results from Bing and Yahoo.


> In fact, DuckDuckGo gets its results from over four hundred sources. These include hundreds of vertical sources delivering niche Instant Answers, DuckDuckBot (our crawler) and crowd-sourced sites (like Wikipedia, stored in our answer indexes). We also of course have more traditional links in the search results, which we also source from a variety of partners, including Oath (formerly Yahoo) and Bing.

What this means is that they use 400 sources for things like Instant Answers and other widgets but Yahoo and Bing for all their organic search results.

What this means is that they use 400 sources for things like Instant Answers and other widgets but Yahoo and Bing for all their organic search results.

So, the DuckDuckBot that you cited doesn't contribute to DDG's organic results?

90% of what Google returns to me is Wikipedia, IMDB, and other verticals anyway, so it's not that much different IME.

> So, the DuckDuckBot that you cited doesn't contribute to DDG's organic results?


> We also of course have more traditional links in the search results, which we also source from a variety of partners, including Oath (formerly Yahoo) and Bing.

Traditional links = organic results.

From time to time I'm trying to switch to DDG. However I found its utility very limited by the fact that they don't show time-stamp for search results and there is no "Past Year" time filter.

DDG works good with siple search phrases. Once you can't really formulate something like 'db2 error -418' or 'apple pie recipe' and have to go with 'something is not really working with this and that in some certain case' - DDG is useless compared to Google in my experience.

There are no DDG results: DDG serves Bing results. What you are really saying is that you prefer Bing to Google results.

plus they really sell themelves as the all gloriuos knight, savior of people from evils of big bad wolf. Fine, but who is actually under the shiny helmet? Answer is not that glorious. The knight is just a puppet.

No they aren't. DuckDuckGo does add some of their own stuff in there. Ending up with different results. You can verify.

Of course they have other stuff, but their web search results come directly from Yahoo/Bing and the Russian search engine Yandex. This is widely known [1]. On their FAQ though [2], they mention Yahoo and Bing, but "forget" to mention Yandex.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DuckDuckGo [2] https://duck.co/help/results/sources

Can someone explain why all the comments mentioning this get downvoted? utopcell even links to DuckDuckGo directly where they openly confirm it.

Yes they do, mostly bing + yahoo and yandex. Do they give which percentage of backends they use for any non trivial search?

I've been using it as my primary search engine for about 2 years now. I only use google now when I want to look up places because I don't like that ddg uses yelp.

I never felt google searches were bad, nor do I have problems with the results from ddg. This was just a privacy decision I guess, one that is easy to make with little sacrifice.

Its been my primary search for about two years as well.

I like that it uses Yelp vs Google listings. Yelp has its issues but Google listings are usually less reliable.

more representative in a broader sense - and also really good for specific searches.

they really have been upping their game and continue to do so. the other day, I was looking for a specific paper, not so old, from 2012. admittedly, for papers, I still use Google, I guess because of the link to G scholar.

I couldn't find it within about 5mins and switched to DDG. it was on p.1 of DDG. that was really great to see.

In the 1980s an engineer named Dave Smith, who ran a very popular music synthesizer outfit called Sequential Circuits, proposed an open protocol for connecting music synthesizers. The idea was scoffed at by a number of manufacturers, but relatively soon Roland, and eventually the other major Japanese firms (Korg, Yamaha, Kawai) got on board, and that caused everyone else to join in. The standard became known as MIDI.

In the late 80s, Sequential Circuits went belly up due to some bad product decisions. Yamaha bought the remnants of the company, and Smith himself went to work at Korg, where he helped develop an important line of machines (the Wavestation).

In 2002 Smith decided to try again with his own company. As Yamaha owned the Sequential Circuits name, he settled on Dave Smith Instruments (or DSI). The company did quite well in its own boutique business (high-quality analog polyphonic synthesizers).

In 2015, Roland's founder Ikutaro Kakehashi, who had collaborated with Smith on MIDI, went to Takuya Nakata, the President of Yamaha -- a 3.5 billion dollar revenue company mind you -- and together they decided to unilaterally give Smith the famous Sequential Circuits trademark back as a thank-you and gesture of good-will. Kakeshashi said "I feel that it’s important to get rid of unnecessary conflict among electronic musical instrument companies. That is exactly the spirit of MIDI. For this reason, I personally recommended that the President of Yamaha, Mr. Nakata, return the rights to the Sequential name to Dave Smith." DSI has since been renamed Sequential.

I'm not sure Smith was even aware of their plan. Two of the most powerful people in the music instrument business just gave him his famous company name back for free.

I like to think Google was doing this.

Don't fall for it duckduckgo!

If you change your name to duck, your name will no longer be searchable!

It's a trap!

You had to already know about it though.

That is a foul.

Or, more accurately, a water-foul.

You're making me feel down, Ma' llard.

My wife and I used to breed ducks and have a duck farm. We were quack addicts, and quack dealers. I could go on and on.

Please do.

It's the second result on Google, too: https://www.google.com/search?q=duck

Using an incognito window

It's not even on the first page for me (logged in, in the UK.)

5th for me with this as information:

  DuckDuckGo — Privacy, simplified.
  The Internet privacy company that empowers you to 
  seamlessly take control of your personal information 
  online, without any tradeoffs.
‎ Other Settings · ‎DuckDuckGo Search Box · ‎About DuckDuckGo · ‎Press Kit

Although the word search is mentioned in the info I would not make this out as a alternative search engine at first glance.

Well that's on DuckDuckGo. They could make it more obvious if they wanted. Interestingly, when searching duck, DuckDuckGo went from 2nd to 1st.

First result for me.

Since Google results almost always vary by geographic location, according to the bottom of the page, Google thinks I'm in "Bernalillo County, New Mexico."

I have no idea where that is. I haven't been to New Mexico in close to 20 years. I'm currently almost 1,000 miles away from New Mexico.

Good jorb, Google.

This sends a clear message: Bing should adopt a duck theme and try to get duck searches directed towards itself.

7th for me (not counting the callout stories/maps/videos sections that split up the results)

Personalized results

How? I'm at work (so tracking me personally by IP is probably hard since there's hundreds of different people using the same IP) and using an incognito window. Using a different browser (that I used once or twice), incognito again, gives me the same result.

Nineth for me, Italy, not logged in

They better duck this one.

When I ask Google for "duck", duckduckgo is literally the first hit. My experience may be biased, because I am from Germany, but outside of English speaking countries, they should do just fine.

Strangely, searching from the UK it doesn't seem to be in my results at all. I'm through to the 4th page, and I've come across an article with the same story as the OP, but still not the actual site...

Edit: found it near the end of page 6! Alongside "Duck Donuts" and "London Duck Tours".

Incognito search in the UK here:

1st result: Wikipedia Duck

2nd: Wooden Ducks

3rd: BBC duck recipes

4th: Toilet duck cleaner

5th: BBC iplayer, Sarah and Duck

It goes on. The only mention of duckduckgo on the first 5 pages is this recent news

Same experience here. I wonder if this is some kind of bug?

It's locale sensitivity.

Duck doesn't mean very much in Germany, so there's little that competes with duck.com. In Britain duck has many other meanings.

If you search for an abbreviation that's commonly used as company name, you may find that Google's top result is the one near you, and that the eponymous company in Petrapavlovsk isn't listed.

I doubt it's a bug. I think we just eat a lot of duck in the UK. Additionally I've never heard of duckduckgo referred to by just duck

To add to the "did it come first list", search from the Netherlands:

1st is EN wikipedia with "Duck"

2nd is DuckDuckGo

3rd and on is several restaurants with "duck" in the name.

So it probably is location/language related to some extend.

Just to be sure, I just asked bing.com for "duck". I never, ever, EVER use bing, so unless they get their search results from someone else, they should be relatively unbiased.

Once more, duckduckgo.com comes up as the first result. Once more, from _Germany_. "duck" is a German word (imperative, as in "duck and cover"), but it is really rare, so I would not be surprised if the search results were biased in favor of our new fowl overlords. But I don't think it's all filter bubble, either.

Colorado checking in. Results for "duck" ...

a. Top stories [not organic result]

1. Wikipedia

b. Maps to "duck" restaurants [not organic]

2. Wiktionary

3. allaboutbirds.org/guide/browse/shape/Ducks

4. Merriam Webster

5. Related article from theverge.com

6. duckduckgo.com

If it's really a trap like parent suggests, then Google will just change that behavior later on, right?

It was sarcastic, the audience of DDG does not need a search engine to find a search engine. In case of WoM, it's easier to hint a friend to go to duck.com

your experience is biased because they give you results based on your google profile.

I just tried it in Incognito, corporate VPN going through Virginia. DuckDuckGo was second result.

For me, DuckDuckGo is second after Duck on Wikipedia (from US).

In the US for me it's the 4th link after wikipedia, the restaurant results insert, wikitonary, and Merriam-Webster. Not bad honestly.

Incognito search from Iowa.

Top hit - duckduckgo.com

It wouldn't take very long for that to change at all. People don't really search "duck" much, so it seems reasonable that duckduckgo would quickly climb to #1 for searching "duck".

And it's already #1 for me (but that's likely because I've used the site before, and Google knows that)

less searchable, but free advertising from gboard...

According to wikipedia,

   On2 Technologies, formerly known as The Duck Corporation...
So it all makes sense now and all the conspiracy theories about Google's ownership proven false. And kudos to Google for transferring a high value domain ownership out to a competitor!

Even before handing over the domain, Google had a landing page that was essentially saying: "If you want to visit DuckDuckGo, _click here_."

I mean, this was known all along for anyone willing to take 30s to research it. Sadly, these days, people just love jumping to conclusion and assuming the worst possible explanation. Hell, even when Google goes out of their way to do the right thing, the top comment here is still conspiracy saying they did it out of greed. There's no winning here.

Technical question: Since DuckDuckGo uses Bing Ads, and Bing Ads have tracking that allow for remarketing, is there a point? advertise.bingads.microsoft.com/en-us/solutions/audience-targeting/universal-event-tracking

Ads on DDG don't use tracking / remarketing, they are only based on your search terms.

See https://duck.co/help/company/advertising-and-affiliates for details.

Also, you can simply disable Ads in Settings. https://duckduckgo.com/settings

Might be a nice step towards rebranding for a bigger audience? I use DDG as a default search engine, but the name doesn't roll off the tongue nicely at all...

Edit: It doesn't roll of my fingers either, I didn't even type out the full name...

I love DuckDuckGo and use it on all my devices, but, WOW what a horrible name/branding. What were they thinking?

Every time I mention/recommend it to someone the response is always a blank stare followed by something along the lines of “I would never use that if only to avoid that horrible name / brand URL”. And I can’t say I blame them.

Maybe it's a geographic thing?

I feel like anyone who grew up in a region where duck, duck goose was a common game for children to play wouldn't be too confused about the name.

Not that being confused about the name or disliking it is a bad thing. But I like the name, and it's part of the reason I chose to start using DDG.

If they changed it to something more generic, I'd be less likely to keep using it because I'd feel less of a connection to the brand. If I'm going to use something that generic and corporate, then Binging sounds more fun than Ducking.

I do realize that potentially losing me as a user doesn't mean this would be a bad move for DDG overall.

I'm not a native English speaker and "duck duck go" doesn't evoke anything at all to me. I learned the reference from your comment even though I've been using DDG for years.

If they want to expand to non-English speaking countries having a long and somewhat complicated name like "duckduckgo" seems like a liability.

I am a native English speaker, and I played duck duck goose as a kid, and I didn't make the connection until just now.

Part of the reason I use Bing is the name is nicer in my head. Also the background images are cool (it's my homepage).

You could certainly be right!

Maybe it is one of those names that could endear your company to a certain audience, but alienate it to a wider audience.

Oh, I'm fully familiar with the game it's referring to. I just don't understand the connection between a serious search engine and a silly child's game.

Is it some kind of inside joke? I just don't get it. I have nothing against the child's game; it just makes no sense to anyone that they named it after that, and it's not an easy name to pronounce or type. Bottom line: It sounds, feels, and looks bad on them.

Keep in mind, Google was roundly mocked initially as a ridiculous name that sounded like a word a baby/child might say.

Google, Bing, Yahoo!, A9 Search, Excite, AltaVista, Overture, Inktomi, Lycos, HotBot, DogPile, Mamma.com., Teoma, Ask Jeeves, Cuil.

Those are all ridiculous names if you want to scale them by seriousness.

Then you have MSN Search, AOL / NetFind, InfoSeek, GoTo, LookSmart, WebCrawler, alltheweb. Slightly less ridiculous sounding, which ultimately that didn't make any difference.

I still remember when 'googol' was my 2nd grade answer to 'no, I like it thousands better, no millions better, no billions better, no googol better!'

And somehow that silly abstraction for "a big number number than yours" became a mega-behemoth of a corporation.

I’d never heard about the game until I started using DDG, and ducks are definitely a thing in the UK.

Right, that's why I think familiarity with the game might be geographic - it seems like one of those games that's played in some places, but not others.

Or it could also be the case that the same game is played, but with a different name. Tracing the etymology of the name would be pretty interesting. As you mentioned, the game of duck duck goose is unheard of in many places that have plenty of ducks and geese.

I played the game as a child, and so the reference wasn’t lost on me the first time I encountered DuckDuckGo – yet I recall my first reaction being “wow, what a clumsy, awkward name.”

It’s cute, but it’s antithetical to the idea of becoming a household word.

I always thought it'd be amusing if their logo was a goose instead of a duck...

Agree, this name is terrible and I think that it seriously damages whole search engine/company and lowers it's popularity. This name gives impression that it's something made for fun and one shouldn't expect serious results out of it. Moreover I think that it actively prevents popularization - you mentioned that after your recommendation response is blank stare etc. - for me and I suppose that for many others it works differently: I don't event recommend it to anyone because I know/predicted result similar to yours.

I agree. I don't like super generic names like "Signal" or "Go" because they're often ambiguous but some people really go too far the other way. An other example that comes to mind is "SpiderOak". I don't know if there's a reference I'm missing here but it's just a weird and obscure name for an online backup tool.

According to the founder’s AMA, they weren’t thinking.

He had acquired the name Duck Duck Go before deciding to create a search engine. So when he started he just used that name for his next project and it stayed.

It’s clearly due for some rebranding. Duck alone works great for that. It’s got some relavance to their current name, it’s short, there will never be a shortage of puns and word play.

What is a "Google"? It's not even a word. It caught on though.

The most important thing for a brand name like this to be is:

  1. Simple to remember and easy to pronounce.
  2. Unique and stands out from other generic names.
  3. Aesthetically sounds/looks good.
Under this criteria: "Google" works. "Bing" works. "DuckDuckGo" does not work.

I always figured it was simple because of the Duck Duck Goose correlation. It certainly stands out. And I do like it because of the Duck Duck Good implication. I think fitting those 3 criteria is personal taste.

I think that it can also be perceived as derivative from goggles[0], and it fits pretty good.


Its from googolplex, the name of a very large integer that is equal to 1 followed by 10100 zeroes

That word is "googol". Google is nothing. It's a play on words we've gotten used to like DuckDuckGo.

No mention of a sale?

That seems so strange. I cant think of any other times that a business has given charity to a direct competitor like this.

I wonder if Google wants them around so that they can point to them as a competitor when anti-trust suits come up in court.

Sure, there's that, but Google really need competition for their own sake.

The US would not have put a man on the moon if it wasn't for the Soviet Union trying to do the same. Not having credible competition is bad from a purely professional point of view because you need someone to spur you on.

Since about 2003-2004 search has not really been a real competition in the west. Google has had an unhealthy dominance. I have worked for three search engine companies (Fast, Yahoo and Google) and I can remember how inspiring the early days were when there was half a dozen search engines to compete against.

I particularly enjoyed trying to figure out how the competition did things. At the time you had narrow problems people worked on that perhaps only a dozen other people in the world cared deeply about. Published research hadn't always caught up with what was happening so you spent some amount of time trying to read between the lines and measure things to figure out what the competition was up to.

One of my fondest memories is a lunch I had with Jeff Dean when I slid a napkin over the table with a graph on it. He took one look at it, smiled and said "did you figure it out?". I said "no, did you?". And he said "I have no idea".

Today search just exists and I no longer give a shit about it. It doesn't strike me as fun anymore. Because there is no real competition. I'm pretty sure that at least the engineers at Google would soil themselves with joy if they got a real competitor.

Ding ding ding.. we have a winner

Bing exists?

Until recently EdgeHTML existed


Does it?

I mean it's bigger than DDG?

Well only because DDG aggregates some of their stuff plus Microsoft ship everything to glue into Bing (windows login screens / default browser config / Cortana / XBox).

I know no one who consciously uses it to do anything other than my mother who uses it search for Google.

If none of the other default integrations exist it'd be dead on it's arse.

There are memes out there about people using it to search for porn and I've seen it referenced in forums, so there's at least one use case. Although why anybody has to actively /search/ for porn is beyond me.

Well it's not like you find it in a bush these days so you have to put some effort in.

> There are memes out there about people using it to search for porn and I've seen it referenced in forums

From what I've heard their video search is superior.

> Although why anybody has to actively /search/ for porn is beyond me.

Specific tastes?

I use it consciously! I'd rather not support Google, and after a few comparison searches between DDG and Google back in the day I used Google, I found DDG to be far inferior.

Plus Bing has nice background images (I use it as my homepage).

I use it exclusively.

DDG just uses Bing, the existence of DDG is irrelevant to this, Bing is what counts.

Agreed, and you shouldn't be down voted for it.

I like DDG, and use it, but it's mostly a pretty front end on a now-deprecated Bing API. If Bing shut down, DDG wouldn't be far behind.

I've never seen a DDG crawler in any of my logs, though I've seen plenty of Google and Bing (and others). DDG does some nice instant answer and bang stuff, but the actual deep search results are all Bing (and maybe Yandex?)

Yes, see https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18664967

The DDG crawler is not used for organic results, only for stuff like the widgets. All organic results are from Bing and Yahoo (and possibly Yandex).

What constitutes competition ? If I put up a site serving Wikipedia, that nobody visits, am I a competitor to Wikipedia or Google ? Last time I checked, DuckDuckGo had < 0.2% market share. Aren't Bing and Yahoo enough already to justify competition ?

And get some positive optics.

There's no reasonable amount of money that Google can charge for this that will make up for the amount of meetings they'd need to correctly determine the amount and get all the signoffs for it, and charging for it would also negatively impact the PR for it.

It's more reminiscent of Batman giving one of his batrangs to a kid dressed like him.


Is it really a competitor? IMO from the point of Google's view DuckDuckGo is a very small niche service that doesn't really endanger them and they can win a few bonus points with their community.

also some people use bangs [0] like !g !b !yt and other bang's to redirect search another website directly from ddg. (I use this when I do not like the responses and want to check another search engine)

sort of like google giving money to wikipedia, I suspect they do infact collect information on ddg searches and can aggregate it and make something useful from the information. in fact, they can probably infer that ddgs initial response was poor and determine their weaknesses etc

[0] https://duckduckgo.com/bang

Macworld Boston 1997

"At the 1997 Macworld Expo, Steve Jobs announced that Apple would be entering into partnership with Microsoft. Included in this was a five-year commitment from Microsoft to release Microsoft Office for Macintosh as well a US$150 million investment in Apple. It was also announced that Internet Explorer would be shipped as the default browser on the Macintosh. Microsoft chairman Bill Gates appeared at the expo on-screen, further explaining Microsoft’s plans for the software they were developing for Mac, and stating that he was very excited to be helping Apple return to success"

Apple was about to go under and Microsoft saved it in order to have a competitor.


This is indeed weird; a 4 letter domain name that also happens to be an english word is worth a couple millions.

How do we know Duck didn't pay for it?

not exactly charity but something similar happened between Microsoft and Apple: https://www.wired.com/2009/08/dayintech-0806/ (Aug. 6, 1997: Apple Rescued — by Microsoft)

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