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Use DuckDuckGo to improve your privacy online (2018) (spreadprivacy.com)
362 points by rbjorklin 5 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 173 comments



I first tried DDG in its early years and it just didn't yield the results I needed, I tried it again a couple of years ago and have stuck with it ever since as it has must better results these days.


Every now and then I search for something and don't get the results I'd expect. So I turn to Google, but for the past year or so I noticed that Google can't find what I expect for those search terms either. The difference seems to be that Google starts guessing and excluding keywords, without understanding that those keywords where important.

For me personally, Google is a less pleasant experience these days.

The DuckDuckGo privacy extension is currently the only type of "ad-blocker" I currently use. I really like the look and feel, as well as the functionality. The automatic downgrade from an A rating for the lack of an entry on https://tosdr.org/ is a little over the top for me though.


THANK YOU. I feel crazy when I tell people this but I 100% agree. Google seems to look at your search as a general guide now rather than actual parameters. I also have to surround each word in quotes or they get excluded on the SECOND OR THIRD RESULT.

I'm very upset because this hinders my daily work and research. I'm starting to rely on Bing which is definitely worse than old Google but may be better than current Google.

I want to like DDG but it's normally missing article dates or other small features I depend on. I'll keep checking in to see if this changes.


I know this could be overcome by me being less lazy, but my favorite thing about Google is the results I get without ever having to click a link. This is especially true for searching things like TV shows, actors/directors, athletes, etc. It's just great UX.

I tried to switch to DDG on mobile recently (using the Brave browser) and I found myself really missing those inline results.


Is there any possible way the old google could be resurrected? By google themselves or just someone cloning the tech? My google-fu keeps getting worse, on pages I know I've found handily in the past. I'd almost pay for a good search, cash or personal data or whatever.


Google offers the verbatim mode (search for exact words of phrases) which you can activate in tools or by adding the tbs=li:1 parameter to the URL.


I've always used that, but it annoys me that verbatim can't be combined with e.g. restricting the date on a search, because both use the 'tbh' parameter.


Agreed. Feels nice to know others have the same problems.


ha, a few weeks back a very similar post came up and i expressed that i felt the DDG results were letting me down. I just actually switched back to Google yesterday, i tried hard, but it just got too annoying having to search for 50% of things twice.


That annoys me too, I tried with lite.qwant.com but their exact match operator annoys me, as I have a spanish keyboard.

Results are decent but I just hate that.


Try https://startpage.com They pay Google to proxy their generic non personalized results.


Some people are going to ask "How does Startpage make its money?" and fortunately they've put that info in their Privacy Policy:

  Our search result pages may include a small number of 
  clearly labeled "sponsored links", which generate revenue
  and cover our operational costs. Those links are retrieved
  from platforms such as Google Adwords. In order to enable
  the prevention of click fraud, some non-identifying system
  information is shared, but because we never share personal
  information or information that could uniquely identify 
  you, the ads we display are not connected to any 
  individual user."


For those on mobile:

> Our search result pages may include a small number of clearly labeled "sponsored links", which generate revenue and cover our operational costs. Those links are retrieved from platforms such as Google Adwords. In order to enable the prevention of click fraud, some non-identifying system information is shared, but because we never share personal information or information that could uniquely identify you, the ads we display are not connected to any individual user."


this always seemed like the right kind of trade-off - the sponsored links are generated from the search terms, not the 'personalised' search_terms+surveilled_data blob. if this is _all_ that Google the search engine did, I probably wouldn't have switched.


> The difference seems to be that Google starts guessing and excluding keywords, without understanding that those keywords where important.

I still find this weird because it's the exact opposite for me. I've posted this here several times, but to say it again: Everytime I use google, they honor all my forced terms. DDG, as soon as they don't have a lot of results, says "As we can't show you a lot of results, we decided you want something completely unrelated instead. Have fun."

Google also shows you which terms they excluded, DDG quietly drops them.

I like DDG, but when they made that change, it made me use !g more often.

edit: Because people tend to downvote me when I say this, here are examples:

Query: google "amp" modal

DDG: Google Maps SO issue, Google Sheets landing page, more google maps results. Only 7 is related by simply showing the AMP homepage.

Google: Only google amp results related to "modals" in some way.

And yes, the results google shows are actually in DDGs index, it's just that they decided they know what I want even though I forced the amp term.


Google has gone from incredible to shitty over last few years. When I am looking for specific things, Google will most often present me with links to big websites. This happens most with medical searching like when I tried to find if low body temperature is somehow related to depression. Google showed me completely irrelevant links from WebMD, nhs etc. I had to go to page 4 to find some links to forums where people were discussing about it.

I've found myself using double quotes more often now than ever before. Google just doesn't seem to understand what I'm looking for.

The growth of content marketing has ruined Google search results.


Doesn't DDG also exclude keywords it doesn't think are important? And it doesn't have a "missing `keyword`" warning below the results either, as imperfect as that was.

Ex: `libwacom huion gaomon`, missing libwacom in first result.


My experience has been the opposite.

I tried switching to Brave and DuckDuckGo over the last six months, but found myself opening google and re-running the search so often that I recently gave up, and, with misgivings, reset my browser and search preferences back to google.

Duckduckgo just never found what I was looking for, and, in broader searches, would return relatively fewer results.


I went through the same process, until I realized that Google’s results aren’t better for me because I evolved.

What Google does is to have context and to use that context to make the queries more specific. They use for example your location and your history of searches.

However being privacy conscious, I deleted my Google history and disabled the collecting of history in my Google account. And then the results became visibly worse.

This is important because when people complain loudly about the difference, they usually have a search history in Google going back a decade, reflecting a trail of embarrassing moments of course that most couldn’t make public. Not many people are curious to look at that history, although to Google’s credit, they do expose it in full detail and a nice interface.

With DDG you just have to be a little more explicit. For example searching for “ruby” won’t yield results related to programming (except for ruby-lang.org), but searching for “ruby programming” does. So in general you just have to be a little more specific and we’re talking about a word or two.

Nowadays whenever I can’t find something on DDG on my first try, I’m confident that I won’t find it with Google either. And lately I feel like DDG is better, maybe due to my changing search patterns.

The real gain is privacy and this reflects in the searches you’re doing. I can’t convince myself to search for medical conditions on Google anymore. What if I’d get classified as a diabetic (I’m not)? What if that data leaks and this affects my credit score? No thank you.


I understand the point being made, but it's arguably irrelevant why Duckduckgo's results are lower in quality - the switch still involves the loss of not insignificant utility, which goes against the experiences I'm reading here from all the people here saying how great their search results were.

Moreover, I'm not convinced it's entirely due to my search history, location or other online history. It's definitely not search skills, or inspecificity of search terms that's the problem.

IMHO, it's mostly poor coverage. In my casual experience, it's particularly evident in academic journal articles, but there's definitely poorer coverage in general. Even when I know the web page I'm looking for, I can't get it to show up in the search. Or, as I mentioned, a blanket search will bring up a page or so of relevant links, compared to many pages from google.

The elephant in the room here is Bing. Bing is an objectively worse search. There's no way around that, and no ideological dressing that can change the fact.


I did tests for a keyword I'm interested in and DuckDuckGo definitely doesn't rely only on Bing.

I've brought this discussion up because at that time (4 months ago) the results on DuckDuckGo were worse than Bing's: https://www.reddit.com/r/duckduckgo/comments/9j5f1p/duckduck...

But nowadays they are better for that same keyword. Whether somebody on their side noticed my issue on Reddit and manipulated this particular result, I don't know. But they definitely aren't just a shell over Bing.

Google provides the best results in this case, without doubt. For a software company of their size, hiring some of the best engineers and specialized in ML, I wouldn't have expected otherwise.

I still use Google's Search for double checking whenever I don't find something, but as I said, I increasingly find that for my search queries Google can't help me in finding anything that DuckDuckGo can't.

I don't search academic papers so of course we have a different experience.

---

Btw, I don't think caring about privacy is an ideology. I've worked in the advertising industry and I still do, although I'm on the publisher's side now.

Companies are carelessly trading user data and if that happens to me (1) I need to be informed and (2) I need a substantial reward in return to outweigh the risks and as long as there are cost effective alternatives that protect privacy, I'd rather use those, voting with my wallet and all that.


https://duck.co/help/results/sources

Money quote:

> 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.

The other 400 sources are just used to widget stuff while the organic links are mostly from Bing and Oath. So it's a mash-up.


My experience has mirrored yours. Today i found, a little bit surprisingly, that when i went to !G to get a different selection of results, what i got was considerably worse than DDG.

my guess as to the reasons for this particular failure of !G is that, because i have been gradually shifting to fastmail for the past 1.2years and the chain of messages between myself and the company i was looking up never managed to make it from linkedin --> gmail.


Context can't explain everything. Ive read an article DDG found for me and wondered why all prices were in DM (currency in germany before euro). The article was really that old. Something like that never happend on google. Context can explain some fails of DDG, but not all.


I agree. In general, DDG tends to have pretty solid results now. I'm glad it doesn't think it knows what I'm searching for better than I do. The one advantage I will give Google is that the layout can be better in some situations. For example, if I'm getting multiple results from StackOverflow and MDN on the same query, I like how Google groups them. Also, searching for something like sports scores is a better experience on Google because I don't need to click into any links. Other than that, I find DDG just as good if not better in almost every other area.


I rarely get useful results from Duckduckgo, so !g is my usual first attempt, not a secondary thing after trying DDG's results.

For example, just now, I came across "ED survivor". No idea what "ED" means here (it's eating disorder).

I just put it into DDG and got nothing on the first page that looked like it could be pertinent: A user name "ED survivor" on Instagram posting about vegetarianism, Ed Stafford on Wikipedia, "ED: The Survivor" (a mod for a computer game evidently), Devil Survivor Full HD (a film obviously, no idea what ED means here), a few more in this vein, until the page ends with the TV series Survivor on Wikipedia.

Google: First hit "Template:ED survivor" in Wikipedia (and that page contains the words "eating disorder". Second hit "Eating Disorder Survivors Wall", third hit "Surviving ED" from HealthyPlace (so it's health-related – and the snippet shown on the result page starts with "Eating Disorders recovery is a long road.).

The rest of the results on Google are all similar, all of them(!) clearly tell me what ED means in this context.

DDG gave me crap, none of the results(!) came even close to answering my question.

This is not a singular occurence, just a thing I wanted to know a few minutes ago. I'd love to take DDG's search results, but when not narrowed down to specific origins with bang commands, the results are usually worthless.

Edit: and before people tell me that I should have used quotation marks around my search terms, great, let's try that: Two results with "We would like to show you a description here but the site won't allow us.". From the top three results, one times out, one redirects to a sports betting site, and one to a product in an online apothecary (nothing to do with eating disorder). Then penis extension. Erectile dysfunction, something general about mental disorder, and again two results about penis enlargement.


Totally agree. Had a similar experience as well and then tried again a few months ago and am happy. I do still need to jump over to Le Goog for some searches though. The UI supports a good amount of tweaking which was helpful for getting me used to the switch too


!g search term


!s = Startpage, anonymizing by proxy the Google SERPs. I know, I'm having to retrain my DDG Bang muscle memory myself.


Do they have a contract with google? Or how do they get around captchas and cease and desists?


"Startpage acts as an intermediary between you and Google, so your searches are completely private. Startpage submits your query to Google anonymously, then returns Google results to you privately. Google never sees you and does not know who made the request; they only see Startpage."

From: https://support.startpage.com/index.php?/Knowledgebase/Artic...

More: https://support.startpage.com/index.php?/Knowledgebase/List/...


This one answers my question better: https://support.startpage.com/index.php?/Knowledgebase/Artic...

> Why does Google let Startpage access their search results?

> Startpage.com has a contract with Google that allows us to use their official "Syndicated Web Search" feed, so we have to pay them to get those results.

So what is their own business model? Do they show ads? (I disabled adblock but didn't see any.)


Yes, they show non-personalized sponsored links: https://www.startpage.com/en/search/privacy-policy.html


Why not just go directly on Startpage instead of DDG -> Startpage?


Oh! Many thanks :)


Thank you for teaching me this. It seems there are a whole bunch `!gm search term` will access google maps for instance.


https://duckduckgo.com/bang

There's thousands of them

!w Wikipedia !hn Here :) !auk Amazon UK !so Stack Overflow


My main problem with Google was that the entire first screen (above the fold) was full of advertising and included no actual search results, in the majority of my searches. DuckDuckGo is better at that, for now, so I made the switch about a year ago.


It just occurred to me that I never see ads on Google. I'm not sure why. Possible reasons: I have an old computer, use out-of-date browsers, and my computer is set to spanish (but almost all search results are in english), browser set to 'block web advertising'. But..never any ads, at all - no sponsored results etc, nothing, not on the side or on search results or at the top of the page. (I have seen a load of them on other peoples' computers' google searches, so I know what they look like.)


As I started to work in an advertising agency some years ago they told me about ads on google. I didn't believe them until they showed me. It's beyond me how anybody can use the web without an ad blocker.


I use it, but it fails in several areas. It has no filter to limit searches to a year, their options stop after 1 month. Their image search results also lack the depth of Google's. These are features I actually use heavily. So even though I have my browser defaulted to DDG, I find myself having to go to Google several times a day. I really hope they improve this.


Same, at the start I regularly dropped back to Google if I couldn't find what I was looking for, the last few times I tried that the Google results were even less helpful than the DDG ones. Maybe my Google-fu is just rusty, though.


It's my default search engine now, and the bangs shortcuts are handy if I need to temporarily override the search engine (ie: !g for Google, !w for Wikipedia, etc).


It's unfortunately unusable in any language except English


If the user submits a GET request to DDG from the commandline with Javascript disabled, then all results links are prefixed with the address of a DDG server, e.g., https://example.com becomes https://duckduckgo.com/l/uddg=https%3A%2F%2Fexample.com

Whatever the reasons may be for this decision, it allows DDG to track all links that the user follows from the results page. That is no better than Google. It is not a privacy improvement in that regard.

If the user submits the request via POST, then the results are not prefixed. For example, if the request is submitted from an html form with method set to "post".

I submit that allowing users to GET (clean) results without using Javascript would be a privacy improvement over Google. Not to mention that it would please many users who get frustrated when trying to copy links from a Google results page only to find they have been prefixed and loaded with Google url parameters.

Users deserve clean result links.

To see the difference between prefixed and non-prefixed result links:

   curl -o a.htm https://duckduckgo.com/lite/?q=example.com

   grep -m1 .=result-link a.htm

   curl -o b.htm -d "q=example.com" https://duckduckgo.com/lite/

   grep -m1 .=result-link b.htm


> Whatever the reasons may be for this decision, it allows DDG to track all links that the user follows from the results page. That is no better than Google. It is not a privacy improvement in that regard.

It's meant so that the sites you click on can't see your search queries via the Referer HTTP header.

You can turn that off in DDG's settings[1] under the privacy tab. It's the "Redirect" switch. They explain more about it[2]. Basically, it's a privacy choice they give you between preventing sites you visit from seeing your search queries or preventing DDG from seeing what you clicked on.

If you want, you can prevent both by enabling their settings option to use POST instead of GET in their search. Then you can disable the redirect and the sites won't be able to see your search query from Referer, because it would have been passed through the request body instead of URL parameters. However, that's going to prevent you from being able to have your searches in your browser history.

EDIT: I now note why you mentioned javascript and why the Referer option talks about being needed on old browsers. It seems that when javascript is enabled, they do something else to ensure that Referer doesn't leak search queries without passing info on what you clicked on to DDG. That means that, by default on a typical browser, both leaks are prevented. That's pretty neat.

[1] https://duckduckgo.com/settings#

[2] https://duck.co/help/results/rduckduckgocom


Here is another perspective from a non-developer user on those reasons and the resulting tradeoff (of allowing DDG to trivially track which result links are followed):

1.

Privacy conscious users can control whether a Referer header is sent and if so, the content of that header.

They might choose to use a browser that does not make it easy to control the Referer header.

But DDG does not account for those privacy conscious users who may be using browsers that do allow this control. (Bias discosure: I use one and not for privacy reasons.)

The DDG decision seems to encourage users to choose browsers that have privacy-unfriendly default settings or that do not make it easy or even possible to control what if any Referer is sent.

At the very least, it tries to resolve an issue that is a clearly client-side one and is best resolved there.

2.

Correct me if I am wrong but storing "settings" with DDG requires a cookie and/or Javascript to be enabled.

If this is true, then again this is not an improvement in privacy. Privacy users may prefer to keep these browser "features" disabled wherever possible.

Users can of course control whether they send GET or POST by using a client such as curl or the like, or sending requests from a local copy of a DDG html search page with the method changed from GET to POST.

One might wonder why DDG cannot provide an alternative search page with its form method set to POST. Users can then choose which search page they prefer. No cookie needed.

Instead it sets the default method on its search pages to GET (perhaps leaking the query in the URL).

How many users will bother to change the default? A minority of them, no doubt.

There is an opportunity to let users turn off cookies and Javascript and let them perform searches using POST, the method usuaully advocated by those advancing internet privacy.

I cannot see that it would cost DDG anything substantial to provide it, except not promoting GET as a method by default, not requiring users who want to change defaults to enable cookies or javascript to "keep state" and reliquinshing the ability to easily track which result links users follow.

To reiterate, control over the Referer header is easily done by the http client. Clients that do not allow easy user control over this are not improving internet privacy.

In my experience sending Referer headers is almost never necessary. It is very rare that I find a site that requires a Referer header, let alone a specific one.

Sending gratuitous information seems like a clear departure from the internet privacy playbook. Then again, I am not a privacy expert and perhaps the experts have decided there must be a carve-out for the Referer header and users should err on the side of sending too much information rather than too little.

The only reason I am aware of this stuff is because I use the web heavily without javascript or cookies and I take an active role in what headers I send. I generally do not do this for privacy, but for speed and control. I can strip out the prefix client-side if I must use GET.


Correction: When I suggested alternative search page set to POST, that was a mistake. I actually meant alternative endpoint that accepts GET and returns clean (=unprefixed) result links. Sorry for the inadevrtence.


> But DDG does not account for those privacy conscious users who may be using browsers that do allow this control. (Bias discosure: I use one and not for privacy reasons.)

> The DDG decision seems to encourage users to choose browsers that have privacy-unfriendly default settings or that do not make it easy or even possible to control what if any Referer is sent.

I can't follow your logic. That DDG provides their own method of circumvention for information leakage through the Referer header does not mean that it encourages browsers that don't have such features. That's like saying that a building that provides facilities for the disabled is encouraging people to become disabled.

> At the very least, it tries to resolve an issue that is a clearly client-side one and is best resolved there.

And you believe that that's going to happen? In a broad sense, DDG's goal is to promote privacy. The more it can help people in keeping their privacy, the better. I for one, don't control the Referer header in my browser even though I could because I'm lazy, and I appreciate DDG helping me a bit in that regard. However, I imagine that many users of DDG don't even know what a Referer header is, why complicate their search for privacy when DDG can help them?

> Correct me if I am wrong but storing "settings" with DDG requires a cookie and/or Javascript to be enabled.

> If this is true, then again this is not an improvement in privacy.

Why? You give me the impression that you think that any use of cookies requires the ability to track a user, but that's not so. A cookie is merely data that is passed with each request. If the server receives a request "please give me search results for foo and take the following settings into account...", that's not really privacy invasive. The server is not tracking you and remembering you, you're simply providing your preferences in each request as if it were the first time that the server had ever met you.

> One might wonder why DDG cannot provide an alternative search page with its form method set to POST. Users can then choose which search page they prefer. No cookie needed.

It does. It's in the settings. It probably does use a cookie, but there's no privacy reason to avoid it.

> Instead it sets the default method on its search pages to GET (perhaps leaking the query in the URL).

> How many users will bother to change the default? A minority of them, no doubt.

Like I said in the comment you replied to, the default doesn't leak to either. In the second link I shared, DDG explains how it uses a meta tag to set the URL that the browser should use for Referer. As I understand it, it doesn't even require javascript to work.


>Whatever the reasons may be for this decision, it allows DDG to track all links that the user follows from the results page. That is no better than Google. It is not a privacy improvement in that regard.

I don't think that DDG is trying to have independently auditable level of privacy guarantees. What they are selling is trust. The trust that major tech companies have squandered over the last decade. I trust a couple guys sitting in an office in Pennsylvania somewhere way more than the faceless behemoth that is Google at this point. Who knows if that trust is worthwhile, or if things won't end up going the same way, but I'm on their side for now.


Here it is with piping so you don't have to litter your working directory:

    curl -s https://duckduckgo.com/lite/?q=example.com | grep -m1 "'result-link'"

    curl -sd "q=example.com" https://duckduckgo.com/lite/ | grep -m1 "'result-link'"


And for xpath lovers

    curl -sd "q=example.com" https://duckduckgo.com/lite/ | xmllint -html -xpath '//a[@class = "result-link"]/@href' - 
    curl -s https://duckduckgo.com/lite/?q=example.com | xmllint -html -xpath '//a[@class = "result-link"]/@href' -


Then you cannot do

   diff a.htm b.htm
Send the output to /tmp or some directory mounted as tmpfs.

My working directory is always mounted tmpfs. This is how I keep things fast and clean.


Try adding &kd=-1 to the end of your search URL.

For example:

https://duckduckgo.com/lite/?q=test&kd=-1


Thank you! Problem solved.


I've stopped using Google and moved to DDG not because of privacy, but because the results on Google just seem the same everytime even when I use different wording, making it feel like Google has been becoming a "recommendation engine" rather than a "search engine".


If you feel like Google is excluding certain keywords you very much like to include, you can wrap the word/sentence in double quotes, this tells Google to show results that certainly include these keywords.

For example, searching: "word x" "sentence a" would prompt Google to show only pages that include both the word and the sentence in the same page.


If only. It's a bit more fuzzy than that now.


Nope! :)

Its actually part of the syntax of search queries for google. That said, it still isn't always the best results.


That's anecdotally false. I've had Google use synonyms for words I put in quotes instead of the words themselves.


I love DDG (and have been using it as my primary search engine for about six months) but I feel like the hacker community (including me) forgets that DDG is a for-profit corporation, and that at some level posting these kinds of links is more or less the same as just giving them free advertising.


The quality of DDGs results is related in part to the number of users they have:

- they use link clicks to determine coherence between query and result. More users => more clicks => greater coherence

- they fund themselves using advertising, so their revenue is roughly proportional to their number of users. Increasing users => increasing money => more money to devote towards improving results

If one is interested in improving the results of DDG, then providing them with free advertising is an easy way to do it.


I'm not disagreeing with your point (or the network effect in general), but I guess I worry that if we don't engage in some early skepticism, we're going to end up with another Google or Facebook on our hands.


> they use link clicks to determine coherence between query and result. More users => more clicks => greater coherence

Do you have a source on that?


Giving DDG free advertising is something I try to do once a day. I believe DDG is the rare ethical business and deserves praise.


That's hardly unusual for HN; there are plenty of legitimate posts here every day that promote products (free and paid).

I think products that tend to align with hacker values (transparency, privacy, etc.) are fair game.


DuckDuckGo's product is search without privacy violations. I'm actually pretty delighted someone is demonstrating that this is a profitable product.


So the implication here is that if Google bad, Google company, DuckDuckGo company, then DuckDuckDuckGo bad too?


Why is that bad? If we can encourage companies to be open source and privacy conscious, isn't that a win? And in this case, the free advertising is coming because it is a good product.


Switched to DDG for my defaults over a year ago now. Still occasionally have to append a !g to my search, and Google Maps is still unmatched, but for run of the mill searches it's been working out. Google lost my trust, so if I can avoid using a service of theirs with a viable alternative, I do so. Go, OpenStreetMap!!


I’ve switched over recently too. I’m slowly removing Google from my life as much as I reasonably can. The one thing I can’t find an alternative for is Google Scholar. I’ve never found another half decent search engine for research journals. The fact that I can get references formatted pretty consistently for BibTeX right from Google Scholar is a big plus.


Same situation here - the vast majority of my day-to-day searching has been handled by DDG for the past few years without any issues apart from the odd !g search for really specific things (that google is not much better for either).


> Google lost my trust

you might want to try occasionally using !sp instead of !g -> same results, no google.


Just !s will do actually.


> Go, OpenStreetMap!!

Didn’t DuckDuckGo switch off of OpenStreetMap to Apple Maps recently?


Correct. I wish they stuck it out with OSM, that project needs more support.


I also wish they stuck with OSM. It was far more functional on the non-Apple products I use. Don't know how well it works on Apple, but I can't seem to figure out zoom and pan in Firefox.


DDG has been my default search in FF for a very long time now. If I can't find what I'm looking for with ddg, I'll simply add !g to my search, and it will redirect to Google.


I can’t tell if everyone here is serious when they say they haven’t looked back.

Google knowledge graph is years ahead of DDG. Average person does not want to click through results, s/he just wants the answer. Compare these queries in Google vs. ddg:

  - nba scores
  - 2018 super bowl
  - lakers roster
  - movies in theatres
  - game of thrones cast
  - $aapl
  - where is my phone
  - 2019 thanksgiving
etc


I can't say I haven't looked back; occasionally I'll fall back to Google when DDG is having trouble finding what I want to find. Even then, it's certainly less than 10% of the time (maybe even less than 5%), and I find when I have to do that, Google's results aren't super high quality either (though most of the time the quality is just better enough that it turned out to be useful to have the Google fallback).

As for just "getting the answer", I suspect you're right most of the time, but I really don't mind clicking through the first few results links to see the answer. Figuring out the best answer and putting it in-line with the search results is a nice-to-have for me, but certainly not essential.

Also note that I'm making a trade-off here: lower search result quality in return for not having my search history tracked. For many people, I imagine they don't care about their privacy as much and will make the opposite trade-off. That's fine; I'm just glad we have good enough options so people can make that decision and not be forced one way or the other.


If you want to help break a monopoly, you'll have to bear with not having all the features only a monopoly can provide.

Scrolling a bit or even clicking on "More results" is not that big of an inconvenience for me to completely drop them. I will admit though that when a search fails for me, I may at times check the same search query at Google, but I now use Google for like 10% of my searches or so.


Personally I find that Google is great for "social knowledge" like the examples above, but for work related troubleshooting/documentation/error codes/etc duck duck go brings me better results.

If I'm searching for a place to eat near my house I use google, if I'm searching for WSUS error code 0X8024401C I use DDG


Perhaps the average person is not on hacker news.


All hail the duck! (Not tongue in cheek. I'm a fan of the duck)


Also available at https://duck.com now, after much ado.


Also available at https://ddg.gg

Even shorter to type. ;)


Why are they redirecting it to duckduckgo.com, why not just use duck.com? Short and simple.


they only recently acquired that domain. That too from google!


I'm not trying to defend Google by any means, but I've always wondered how DDG can be as profitable as Google if they take into account less information when showing you ads. Surely using more information allows you to more efficiently match supply with potential demand, which is the point of ads. Is there any research out there that shows that this efficiency gap does not exist?

I don't use or follow Facebook that much, but every time I hear Mark Zuckerberg defending Facebook's business model, he always says something like "we want to make sure the ads you see are actually useful/relevant to you". Is there a way to achieve this outcome without taking into account more personal information?


> I've always wondered how DDG can be as profitable as Google if they take into account less information when showing you ads

AFAIK, no one has conclusively shown that highly targeted ads perform better than interest-based ones (as in, putting ads for cars in car magazines). In fact, I'm under the impression that "we don't really know what we are doing" is the ad industry's secret.

The Atlantic calls this Wanamaker's Paradox[1], in honor of a retailer that said "Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted, the trouble is I don't know which half". If DDG is right and showing ads based on your search terms is enough, then you'd expect them to get ahead of Google, because they would have similar profits with less overhead.

Of course, there is much more to Google's dominance than "because they show better ads", so I don't think "efficiency gap" is the best way to look at it anyway.

[1] https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/06/a-dange...


The way I see it everyone should have some sort of personal data broker (maybe as a browser extension ?). Your data broker has all of your personal information and keeps it safe for you.

If you make a query on a search engine I'm sure we can find a way to have better results without the search engine retaining your private information. Either there is some kind of third party you can temporarily give your info to and trust it to forget it immediatly after giving you the results. Or the search engine could give standard results and your data broker then filters it using your info (which doesn't leave your pc).

I used to think of this data broker as some sort of AI but now that I think about it maybe a simple browser extension that filters Google search results or augments your DDG queries might do the trick.


Does Google take more information into account when showing you ads on the search results page? I thought those were a fairly straight-forward search term based matching/auction too, unlike the ads Google sells on other sites?


Bing pays well for anything that drives it traffic, just to stay relavent.


Switched to DDG about two years ago. First, it was worse than Google. However in the meantime, DDG has improved a bit and Google got worse, showing a lot of performance devrading crap/boxes/large text instead of search results.

So DDG is now all around the better choice.


I love DDG! Switched to it about a year ago and haven't looked back. The odd time I need to use Google at work for a specific technical lookup but otherwise I don't need too. I love to support the underdog who values privacy. I recommend it to everyone.


Does this offer anything unique that other content blockers cannot? From what I can see it would only be the forced encryption and I guess the letter grade.

I love DDG for search but not sure this browser competes with 1Blocker X Safari integration on iOS.


It's not a content blocker. It does have a lot of "instant answers" with information put in a box next to search results so you don't even have to click through. e.g. https://duckduckgo.com/?q=who+is+the+prime+minister+of+malay...

Also it has "bangs" which give you shortcuts to lots of other services. https://duckduckgo.com/bang


Guess I worded it a bit strangely but this acts like a content blocker on iOS, but in it's own browser. Most commenters are just commenting on the search engine but this post is about their mobile browser.

I was just curious what benefits you get from switching to this browser vs. using a content blocker with Safari.


I'm glad most a lot of these comments are saying DDG works for them; I still have a lot of issues with the search quality and switched to Startpage a while ago which uses anonymized google results.


I'm with you. I switched to DDG, and within a day i started subconsciously adding `!g` to my query. And it's for simple things, not even complicated programming queries. For example, if i wanna see what the weather is, typing "Toronto weather" in google gives me the current weather right on the front page, whereas with DDG, i have to scan for weather network and click on it to actually get the information. Same goes for a TV show/movie/sports score. Google has Imdb rating/current live score right there on the home page.


"toronto weather" gives me the weather now and the 7 day forecast in a widget on the top of the search page. If I search "packers" it gives me the latest packers scores on the top (and if a game is ongoing an indicator of the time, who has the ball, and the score), if I search "patriots", there is an nfl tab on the top that I can click and it gives me the scores. I'm not saying you're wrong, but DDG has been working on some of those issues. You can always add !imdb or !rt in front of your shows/movies for rottentomatoes or imdb.


Hmm, you are right it shows correct weather now.

But here[0] are the examples of sport and movies/tv shows that i was talking about.

[0] https://imgur.com/a/vBWh6rN


For anyone reading this, you don't have to use g!. If you use s!, it'll go through StartPage, giving roughly the same results without actually using Google.

Only recently learned this from another HN commenter around here.


try:

"weather: toronto" instead


in my experience you don't need the ":" weather cityname is usually enough


For me it works well about 90% of the time, when it doesn't I hop over to Google for those specific queries.


I'm glad they're moving forward, but I still don't buy it. Someone is tossing a big load of money on them (you know that when you see their ad in twitter every day, and articles like this), specially in the last year. When that happens, investors will want their return, no matter what.

People saying they respect your privacy, but... how do you really know? Also because "improved privacy" != "no targeted ads". They can still do massive amounts of money from the data we provide.

At some point:

1) they would have to comply with some law somewhere, handling user data (logs). 2) they may become the number 2 search engine. Spammers will target them and they would have to start doing some behavioral analysis on "what links worked well to those kind of users" to fix that.

Are they so transparent and well intentioned? Is their system so simple, so innocuous and filled only with anonymous data? Fine, they should Open-source the engine and servers, prove that they are using the same code we see, give us RO access to the DBs, and the equivalent of a MacDonalds kitchen tour.

Otherwise, they are just relying on nice words.


> how do you really know?

You don't really know. However, when your entire USP is being privacy-friendly (and really, that's the primary feature that Google can't copy), it would be incredibly damaging if word got out that that wasn't true. And we can be reasonably certain that, if it wasn't true, word would get out.

Also note that DDG explicitly says they don't do user tracking. So while ads are targeted in the sense that you'll see ads relevant to the search term you're using (and your location and other data attached to the query), they're not keeping a profile of you and targeting ads based on that. In other words: there should be no significant user data for them to hand over.

I'm not sure why they would have to become the number 2 search engine at some point, although regular search engine manipulation does already seem to affect them sometimes. I don't see why they would have to track users to combat that.

Sure, open source would be nice. But right now, we do have reason to assume that they're at least significantly better than Google, without having to sacrifice a lot in search result quality.


> we do have reason to assume

> word would get out

> no significant user data

These, as you say, are assumptions. That's why I don't (still) buy it.

They are in "sell" mode right now. They would say anything to gain traction, and it's working. That's why they are pushing hard and investing a lot. Remember it's about making BIG money through an advertisement-based business, what could possibly go wrong?

Imagine that you are magically handled the DB for the searches done today. What would you can possible learn from that information? Perhaps you can't track what searches did HN user Vinnl, but the info has surely a value. They may not be honest about what are they doing with that information.


Absolutely those are assumptions - hence my first sentence. That's still more reliable than trusting Google, about whom we don't need to make assumptions.

Another assumption I make is that I don't expect then to seriously displace Google any time soon,but rather remain a player that fills the niche of private search. If that ever appears to change, we can always adapt - let's not make perfect the enemy of the good :-)


Why is this suddenly on the front page?


I can't tell if these posts are astroturfed or not. Every other day there's a top post on HN to use DDG (which is mostly a wrapper over Bing) as the default search.


This is a Browser from DDG, not their search engine.

It claims to block trackers like Google and FB, and provides other privacy related features.

Does not say what it's built on... Probably chromium.


lol I know right, same with Brave.


I believe in everything DDG stands for but just earlier I did a search comparison to see which search engine provided the most helpful results. I searched 'asus block third party firmware' (no quotes) and objectively I have to say that Google provided the most helpful results. Search yourself and see if you come to the same conclusion.


Missing features I wish DuckDuckGo had (and reasons why I manually type google.com even though I have DDG set as my default browser: - sports searches. If I search for “Washington Capitals”, I want to know when they’re playing next and what channel it’s on, as well as the results of their past game. This goes for any time I search for a sports team. - searches for dictionary terms should one-box the definition (for instance, today I looked up mortified with “mortified definition”). I should see the one-box of what I’m looking for. - one-boxing in general: stack overflow answers, definitions, calculations (feet to meters, grams to pounds, etc), sports, time zones, cities, monuments, etc.

The search results from DDG just feel “off” compared to google search. I want to like DDG and I keep attempting to use it; but it’s failing at making relevant information immediately available at my fingertips.


If you're willing, consider using the 'Send Feedback' link in the lower right corner of the DDG results page to inform them when you were 'reaching' for a given helper-box and didn't get what you were hoping for.


you don't have to do the full URL just type "!g Washington capitals"


I switched to DDG for two reasons:

- Privacy

- It doesn't try to be smarter than me

More often when I use Google to search (e.g. for research), it decides to ignore one or multiple words, yielding irrelevant results. It's fixable, I can quote them, it even offers to do that, but it drives me nuts.


As usual most of the comments here are "I made the switch and couldn't be happier" and have nothing to do with the actual submission. Therefore I feel obligated to post my usual rant about DDG just being a wrapper for Bing.


Bing or not. For me important is that it is outside Google's reach. This prevents aggregating search (history) with e.g. gmail, contacts, location etc. Also important is, that DDG now works reasonably good in most cases.


Thank you. I support that. What I don't support is people saying it's a false claim when DDG is completely transparent about it themselves.


Does Bing offer the same privacy advantages (no tracking, no history based ads, etc.)?

EDIT to add: I think nobody disputes or cares that most results come from (or equal) Bing results, as long as they're good enough.


DDG basically acts as a vpn proxy. Bing sees all the traffic as from DDG the same, they can't differentiate the individual requesters. Assuming DDG does what it says it does anyway.


Right, so that's a valuable service in itself, as far as I'm concerned.


The most peculiar thing about building on top of Bing's index, when it comes to privacy, is that Bing itself was caught looking at the queries and clicks of Google users during the "hiybbprqag" affaire. It was quite telling that Microsoft didn't turn that off even after getting outed.


How does DuckDuckGo make money?



It offers ads based on your search term, not your browsing history.



The ddg CEO (and others) have answered this question here: https://www.quora.com/How-does-DuckDuckGo-make-money tl;dr: They serve ads based on keywords and not by tracking your interests.


So how does this fit into it?


How does what fit into what?

It's possible to serve ads without being creepy if that's what you're asking.


No, I meant how does this extention/mobile browser generate money for them?


It's marketing for their search engine


Marketing.


I started using DDG everywhere in December after reading a story how Google tried to steal a MIT researcher's work.

I thought they "Do No Evil," were all about corporate and social good? That's the image I once had!


Google built things that circumvent it.

I love how commercials "follow you around". If I search for diamond rings in a browser on one computer, they suddenly materialize everywhere.

I tried it with Duck-Duck-go, searching for something I nearly never search for, something such that the ads follow you around. I just searched in DDG, but did not go to the end website. I then resumed non-DDG browsing, and those came up as ads. I don't know if they are looking at image caches, or loading javascript libraries.

They have a way around it already, and it runs.


I switched my browsers to using DuckDuckGo as the default search engine and almost miss never Google at all. Any time I do miss Google, I just manually navigate to Bing and use that instead.


I deliberately look for DNT (do not track) header and don't load any analytics for those users. As far as I can tell, the ddg app does not send those headers, which could be helpful.


>improve your privacy by downloading another app I don't see how piling even more technology onto privacy unfriendly internet habits helps. You're not going to get more privacy by using this on a site like Facebook. The real solution is to simply remove them from your life. See if there's something you can remove to improve the situation first instead of adding stuff.


If you're looking for privacy, you shouldn't use DDG as it's based in the US. Consider searx or startpage instead


What’s so bad about being based in the US?


Might just be that US companies are known to be subject to National Security Letters


Not really a worry because they cant get what ddg doesn't have.


Is there even evidence they don't keep anything?

Edit: Okay, you can't really have evidence of absence, but good reasons to believe they don't log?


They state all over in their website that they don't log.

Though I have no way of verifying they don't keep logs, if I discover they do: at least I can sue them for it.


For the average user doing average things, how is a NSL worth worrying about? If you are on that radar, you have bigger problems than your search engine.


I think the concern is the breadth of information that the NSA has been known to gather.

This is all speculation (though informed by the Snowden revelations), but if the NSA asks DDG for data for some legitimate reason, it is likely that the NSA would just demand "all" the data, and not a scoped version of it. Meaning your information could get caught up in it.

I agree that for most people this may not be a concern, but if you would like to learn more, privacytools.io has some more information about the "14 Eyes" and other nation state information gathering efforts.


I have been using it for the last month, thanks to HN, but also those who contribute. :D


We changed the URL from https://duckduckgo.com/app to the page that explains what that app does.


Why would I use another AMERICAN / Western search engine? I personally feel we would be better off using Yandex (Russian) or Baidu (Chinese) search engines. We need more COMPETITION to reduce our reliance on parasites like Google / Microsoft / FB etc and thus force the industry to reevaluate their business model on how they make money from us.

Yandex has a pretty decent search engine, and also helpfully provides a link to Google / Bing too, in case one isn't satisfied with their search results. This is smart of them as they still get data to improve their search engine, but also don't leave their users disgruntled when the search results aren't relevant.


The main reason, I suspect, many, including myself, opt for using DuckDuckGo is because people have started to care about privacy; not because they necessarily wish to help foster competition. I see fostering competition as a nice, natural byproduct of valuing privacy.


I agree about being mindful about using services of US companies, possibly preferring alternatives, however using a Chinese or a Russian alternative instead is just plain stupid.

Two reasons:

1. The US is a functional democracy, with a bill of rights and privacy laws which aren’t perfect, but exist; California even has its own version of the GDPR

2. They have strong trade agreements with the EU and if you’re an EU citizen this matters, as companies found to violate the GDPR will get screwed; GDPR which also makes the export of data very complicated, so US companies are increasingly keeping EU data on EU servers

Speaking as an EU citizen, the NSA is not my enemy. But companies like Facebook are. So for me a company like DuckDuckGo is still acceptable because without privacy, they offer nothing of interest, so they won’t do anything to jeopardize their reputation.

Speaking of which, DuckDuckGo can exist in the US, but not in China or in Russia, both being jurisdictions that are ... challenging, to say the least.

If you insist on not using US services, then the only alternatives worth looking at are in Europe, because we have strong privacy laws and we aren’t being led by dictators. And you’d better not look at a “five eyes country” ;-)

Here’s one: https://www.qwant.com/


> however using a Chinese or a Russian alternative instead is just plain stupid.

No, it is not. By using non-american alternatives, you ensure fragmentation of your personal data, thus making it harder to build a better / more accurate profile of you.

Moreover, I personally don't like the fact that using DuckDuckGo still helps the other major search engines - they still get data from DDG that helps them improve their search engine, thus contributing to their monopoly.

> The US is a functional democracy ...

Good for the Americans, then. Not for us who live elsewhere. The US government and courts have repeatedly applied different legal yardsticks when it comes to a citizen vis a foreigner.

> as companies found to violate the GDPR will get screwed; GDPR which also makes the export of data very complicated, so US companies are increasingly keeping EU data on EU servers

I don't see why you think this doesn't apply to Chinese / Russian businesses too. Ultimately if they want to do business in EU or elsewhere, they will have to follow the law of the land. Right?

> Speaking as an EU citizen, the NSA is not my enemy.

I disagree. The Five Eyes spying program is designed to indirectly spy on the citizens of their country using each others government agency, and sharing that data.

> Speaking of which, DuckDuckGo can exist in the US, but not in China or in Russia,

And this brings another important aspect on this debate - we shouldn't be trusting private companies to protect our privacy rights and instead should be pressurizing our own government to legislate laws on this.

Most Americans somehow seem to naively believe that Apple and DuckDuckGo (for example) are working more to protecting your privacy, whereas all they are doing is slowly trying to gain your trust to get you to share more data with them. And ultimately, like Google betrayed all of us and went fully "evil", so will Apple and DuckDuckGo.

(And notice that they have already started being more invasive).


There's also Qwant (https://www.qwant.com/), a European-based search engine that also claims to respect privacy: https://help.qwant.com/help/overview/security/how-does-qwant...


Tried out a country specific query and the results were relevant. Seems promising!


I use bing. I dont really mind that someone is monitoring my searches and tracking my usage. I just dont want Google to dominate, so hopefully using bing helps to balance the world.


Startpage.com is better and has better privacy and search results


Why do you think startpage has better privacy?


You can use !sp from DDG.


Or just !s :)


DDG is absolutely great! I am not sure if they are a profitable company yet? It would be great to have different players on the www again, not just monopolies...


DDG gets simple things right, but for more complex queries I still have to fallback to google sadly


Can you give an example of such a complex query which performs better on google than DDG?


I want to use this but the scroll responsiveness is slow and it lacks a solid way to refresh.


How do I make ddg the default on my old android phone?


ddg is nice for the bangs (although sometimes they drop some) and for very simple queries

for the rest you're only one !g away from the usual


I tried. No maps.


try again. they just incorporated apple maps


Startpage.com ?


searx anyone?


DDG has the most aggressive and adversarial marketing by an internet company I've ever seen that's only matched in intensity by Brave browser's company. Is Gabriel trying to sell before the end of the business cycle?




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