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DuckDuckGo's traffic keeps growing (duckduckgo.com)
342 points by TekMol 24 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 181 comments



DDG has gotten better to the point that I have switched all of my browsers to them and the number of times I have had to fall back to Google Search has dwindled to almost nothing.

If you were turned off by poor results in the past give them another try.


It's not just that DDG is good enough - it seems that DDG has better results than Google for many searches. Any topic where Google engineers and their algorithms believe they know better than you will return "worse" results. I believe they are weighting results by some measure of truth-value for a particular type of information, and this is bad for a couple reasons. First, they might get the measure of truth wrong, either out of ignorance or conflict of interest. Second, you might want a more literal search where the keywords match exactly even though the info might not be very accurate, for instance if you were researching alternate theories.

Examples of where Google search fails to return relevant results because they know better than you are medical, political, illicit/illegal, conspiracy theory, and famous people. Often times the first page of results don't contain the keywords and don't seem to have anything to do with your search query, whereas DDG results do.


Thanks for explaining! It's infuriating to craft a search query containing all the keywords/operators needed to return relevant results - a search query that would return relevant results 24 months ago - only to see Google ignore 75% of keywords completely, extract some commonly-used pair of words from the query, and return 5 pages of results based exclusively on said pair.

What was the motive behind this change? Was the previous algorithm really giving people results so bad that Google felt they had to hamstring their flagship product? It seemed to be getting better and better until this...


This is a long going change. Google has been making their search fuzzier for years claiming it gets better results for most people.

For a while I personally experienced better results on the queries I didn't know the exact name of the thing I was searching for. But those days are gone, because nowadays their search is so fuzzy that it can't extract the correct context from those queries.


Because you aren't supposed to Google search by entering in a bunch of keywords you're supposed to ask Google questions.

Not that your workflow is incorrect, I'm a DDG user and I do the same thing, but that's what Google wants people using their product to do.


Wait, are you saying Google is the new 'Ask Jeeves'?!? :)

Kidding. Anyway, DDG has been my default for months now. Absolutely love it.

The only thing I've really had to change, is to remember to type in a city/ state when looking for local businesses.

Other than that, it feels so great to not be the product!


If you ever want to get a good google result you "have" "to" "enclose" "every" "single" "word" "in" "separate" "quotes".

Very tedious, especially given it's the current year.


That would be a very simple extension. I imagine it already exists. Or even better a greasemonkey script could do it.


The motivation is always the ability to sell ads against the results.


This is true. Thank you for saying it. Made my life much better just to know what happened to Google.

I had a serious impression that 24 months ago Google was absurdly good. So good that I thought no DDG would ever be compared to it. It returned exactly what I wanted all the time with just 2 words in the query.

Today it doesn't ever return what I want, because it seems to ignore what I've searched for more and more. It thinks it knows what I meant more than I do and I can't tell it otherwise.


DDG doesn't have the weight of history that is ruining google. When you google something and can't tell if it's wrong until you click through it reinforces the weighting of that wrong result. It will keep referring you to that 10 year old stack-overflow post that is no longer relevant because it's 6 major versions behind.


I think Google is a bit smarter about that? I.e., I'm pretty sure it detects things like "you click on one link, come back after 10 sec, click on another link and then never come back" and correctly attributes the weight to the link you stayed on.

Possible I'm wrong though. Or could be the heuristics for how long you stay on the page are off. E.g., it can take me a while to realize that some GitHub issue page doesn't help me at all, and I click back, then find another page and get the answer immediately. But maybe Google thinks "well they spent a while on that page, they probably got something useful out of it even if it didn't totally answer their question".


I open anything seemingly relevant in a new tab, run uBlock so they can't track me on the destination page and more often than not forget to close the search tab. So they'd be getting more bad information than good to work with. Even this is somewhat self reinforcing as the quality of search drops I'm more likely to open in tabs.

I think this is very common for developers, but then again the amount of shitty SPA sites that don't work with tabs...


Do you have some example queries?


Sure, if the engine has to guess whether you mean A or B, then whenever two engines make different calls, one of them is wrong.

Even being right 99.9% of billions of queries means being wrong many times.

This calls for statistical analysis, not cherry picking examples or asymmetric sample like "given a bad result from X, Y does better."


Well, in my experience, the quality of the search results I get from Google overall has fallen quite a lot over the last few years, to the point where for any given search, DDG is far more likely to surface what I'm looking for.

This isn't just about certain cherry-picked examples.


I tried switching my phone and computer's default search engine to DDG a few weeks ago, and the quality of programming-related searches was just abysmal compared to Google. Straightforward searches were basically the same results, but searching for error messages or library-specific terms would have a great result in the top slot on Google but nowhere on DDG. I found that I needed to use `!g` for every other search, and figured that if it was causing this much additional effort it would make more sense to just default to Google.

One idea that I've had is building an extension that monitors Google searches and compares the results you click on to DDG. You could monitor which percentage of your chosen results appear on the first page of DDG. Maybe then I could actually quantify which queries are problematic.


> the quality of programming-related searches was just abysmal compared to Google.

My experience is precisely the other way around, but I've heard other devs say what you're saying.

I wonder what the difference between us is?


Language popularity can make a significant difference. Using DDG for purescript queries gives iffy results often enough that I instinctually add the g!. However, for something like Java, or even Clojure, I find that the top result across both engines is more or less the same


Maybe it's because Google keeps your previous queries and knows more about what you're looking for unless you wipe previous searches, whereas duckduckgo doesn't do that. It just gives you the standard results resulting in a bimodal results curve. For some people those are perhaps better than a concerted AI attempt from Google. Just a hypothesis though, no proof.


I’ve found the same, especially annoyingly ddg often gives me answers to much easier, less specific questions than the ones I search for. Like a keen Stack Overflow user.


That's counter to what i have found. Are you just seeing this on local or location related searches?


No, those are a whole separate thing that I wouldn't expect DDG to match the quality of. It's primarily been software development related queries.

For example, a few days ago I searched for "react dnd expected to find a valid target" on Google, and the first result is a GitHub issue describing the issue. All the results on the first page are related to the react-dnd library. The first result for the same query on DDG is an article titled "11 Prison Truths, Revealed By A Female Guard". None of the results on the first page are programming related.


Don't use react, and it's not in my search set, but regularly and happily search for programming and tech issues on DDG. I find it's far better than Google these days. So I thought I'd try your search without the quotes, as your first result is so far from my experience.

First result: https://github.com/react-dnd/react-dnd/issues/1127

Then a couple more from react-dnd's github, then the other seven on the first page are a mix of relevant SO, and github. Seems quite a few people have opened issues on that topic!

Maybe they fixed it. :)


So this is incredibly bizarre. I went back into my history and clicked on the exact entry corresponding to this search query, and the results are now all programming related. The previous first result ("11 Prison Truths, Revealed By A Female Guard") is now on the second page of results.


Or maybe landed on a different shard if they organise that way.

All searches vary, but generalising DDG does disappear off into the silly and completely unrelated as you hit lower pages, rather than fading into "looks relevant but isn't" of Google. Pages 1 & 2 I find mostly on the money.

What has changed is when I !g out to Google I often don't find the results there either, so it's time to get creative with keywords, or try millionshort for blog hunting. A few years ago a !g felt like a much more reliable escape option. Which feels like a mix of DDG getting better so I'm probably escaping harder queries, and Google simply missing the mark more often.


I use ddg as default search and find it perfectly capable.

I tried that same search query and the first result is https://github.com/react-dnd/react-dnd/issues/236

Strange that the first result you got does not appear at all in my first page of results, although I get plenty of other pages related to the same react issue (and neither do I use or search for react issues).


Even better, recently I started to notice when I have to fallback to Google, that usually brings me nothing new. Still do it out of habit, but that will have to go soon.


I thought this was just me and the esoteric technical issues I've been searching for lately. But...you're right. Even with general searches.


I use Google on my desktop and iPad, and DDG on my iPhone due to Google AMP.

While I find that DDG is pretty good for anything work related (e.g. programming stuff), it’s mostly worthless for things like "best chinese food in [some neighborhood]" or "shop cord knit stockings"… ironically, exactly the kind of stuff I gravitate toward my phone for.


I suppose it's not surprising that DDG is weaker in areas where Google has leveraged their products from other markets to enhance their search results. Well "markets" loosely since advertisers are the actual market, but I mean discrete products.

Google has Google Maps. That's why Google can find the best Chinese food in your neighborhood, it's learned to interpret that as a semi-map query right? They also have ads, which means cleaner data on who sells what right?

DDG to me seems to be great for when I need to search for keywords rather than a concept or multi-dimensional query for which DDG doesn't have the other n dimensions of source data.


For me, on iPhone Siri handles these kind of contextual questions for me while DDG takes care of other generic stuff.


I'll second this. DDG has been my default for 2+ years.

Google is better for obscure topics that lack good keywords to find them by. I usually know when I need to '!g'.


What's great about this is that we're still telling DDG what searches we need to do on Google, so they have plenty of diagnostic data available to better their searches (as opposed to skipping DDG entirely).

I do have one nitpick though: I clear all private data, and recently I was forced to get along with 16 kbit bandwidth (yes, slower than 56K, and yes, I spent a lot of time on HN for obvious reasons), and DDG definitely loads more data than Google for a query. Google needed maybe 20 seconds to load a page, DDG IIRC just timed out after some point. I'm guessing it's JS-frameworks?


DDG does have a lite HTML version of their site that is much faster.

https://duckduckgo.com/lite


And ddg can improve its results by slurping in Google's #1 result for every !g query, like Bing got caught doing.


Absolutely.

They're only really worse at localized results for me (Swedish).


I have mixed results, sometimes DDG is pretty good, a lot of times its about the same, but reasonably regularly it leaves me high and dry on an entire page of results and then usually the top hits on google give me what I want. However, I always go DDG first, then !g if I don't get what I want.


this is when you use !sp instead of google :)


Can someone explain the DDG business model? How does this company make money? How am I as a user being monetized? At least I understand Google’s approach.


As others have said, we get revenue from contextual advertising as opposed to behavioural advertising. In other words, if you search for "car" you'd see a car-related ad rather than an ad based on your search history or personal profile (which we don't have anyway).

There's more info about our business model here: https://spreadprivacy.com/duckduckgo-revenue-model/

Disclaimer: DuckDuckGo staff


Advertising.

Untargeted advertising.


There are some ads there. I don't think they have been very successful selling them, but it looks like search is cheaper to provide than it used to be.


I have had the same experience. Over the years I tried DDG and gave up a few different times. A year or so ago I gave it another try and never left.


How often do you use !g or other bangs?


I use alternate bangs all the time, which is a major win for DDG, as it skips the "go to the site first, or specify "site:<host> <search>", which actually is NOT equivalent as bang searches use the site or service's native search.

Fave bangs:

!w wikipedia

!wikisource WikiSource

!etym Online etymological dictionary

!ngram Google Ngram viewer

!trends Google Trends

!gbooks Google Books

!scholar Google Scholar

!tineye Image match search

!so stack overflow

!hn Hacker News

!twitter Obv.

!thread Threadreader App, Twitter thread presentation, preferred to above ;-)

!img Image search (now DDG, Google Image is !gimg)

!worldcat Worldcat union catalog

!osm Open Streetmap

!wayback Internet Archive Wayback Machine

!archive Internet Archive global (non-Web + web) search

!dict & !define Word look-ups

!s startpage (proxied Google search)

!bangs will give you a list of bangs / search form for patterns.


I use !g for specific types of searches. Like when I want to compare things, Google handles "vs" queries much better than DDG.


I use them all the time. !wt for Wiktionary, !forvo for forvo, !ji for jisho.org, !w for Wikipedia, !ud for Urban Dictionary, !clojuredocs, and a load of others.


In 5 years, I used !g maybe once. I use !pg, !wen and others very frequently.


Ones I use frequently are

!g google

!maps google maps

!yt youtube

!mwt merriam-webster thesaurus

!images ddg images

Even though I only regularly use these few I find them very useful.


DDG is more neutral in political themes. You usually see some results that you wouldn't see on the first page on google. Google still has a slight advantage when searching for technical info, but most of times DDG is good enough for them too.


Obviously lacks the privacy aspect, but I've noticed Bing is also politically neutral.

This seems to be a Google-specific problem.

---

Example that I just double-checked: (I don't claim any political views here; JUST an example)

Reddit's largest subreddit for a political candidate is r/The_Donald. Objectively, a rather popular site.

Google (with or without SafeSearch) returns zero results for "Reddit The_Donald" linking to the subreddit. [1] It's only results are indirect discussions about the subreddit.

Whereas DuckDuckGo, Bing, and Yahoo show the subreddit itself as the very first result. [2] [3] [4] (https://np.reddit.com/r/The_Donald/ which is Reddit's public non-logged in site.)

So Google won't display a high-traffic site. I can only assume they find the content objectionable and so will not link directly to it. I understand how some may want that, but that's not a simply not a service I want my search engine to perform, especially when SafeSearch is disabled.

[1] https://www.google.com/search?q=Reddit+The_Donald

[2] https://duckduckgo.com/?q=Reddit+The_Donald

[3] https://www.bing.com/search?q=Reddit+The_Donald

[4] https://search.yahoo.com/search?p=Reddit+The_Donald


r/The_Donald is "quarantined" by Reddit, which means you get a gateway page if you visit for the first time, asking if you really want to visit it (try an incognito window). In the HTML, you'll see that there's a "noindex" metatag that Reddit is instructing Google not to index it.

Also, np.reddit.com seems to be excluded from all search engines: https://np.reddit.com/robots.txt.

I'm not sure why Bing is ignoring both the robots.txt and the "noindex" metatag.


In another comment [1] I compare this with a pro-Marxist subreddit which is similarly "quarantined" and has noindex.

Google indexes it perfectly. [2]

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21316065

[2] https://www.google.com/search?q=Reddit+ChapoTrapHouse


I understand why one might expect r/The_Donald and r/ChapoTrapHouse to have similar results, since they're both politically extreme subreddits. But after having worked in SEO for a pretty long time, I can't conclude that Googlebot is evaluating political affiliation with n=2 examples on n=1 sites. Instead, incoming links quality/quantity, popularity, competition, newsworthiness, age, and dozens of other ordinary differences between these pages and queries are usually the reason. Even the underscore in The_Donald likely matters.

It can get pretty frustrating to rank #1 or #2 for a query, and not rank at all for a slightly different, higher-traffic query, like using the plural, a hyphen, different capitalization, or an article.


It could be that Bings index is outdated.


I thought that DDG is effectively a (privacy-preserving) front-end on Bing, so it makes sense that Bing would give the same or similar results. (Maybe they're doing some of their own indexing these days? I haven't been paying close attention.)


That would make sense why I've noticed the same sorts of results.


Google doesn't look like it indexs any subreddits under the np.reddit.com subdomain.


That's a red herring. All subreddit content is available under both www.reddit.com and np.reddit.com. (I'm not 100% sure why Reddit has both.)

Example:

r/ChapoTrapHouse is a left-leaning political subreddit (and in the interest of true apples-to-apples comparison, also has a content warning by Reddit like the earlier example).

"Reddit ChapoTrapHouse" has top results for www. or np. from all search engines.

* Google: https://www.reddit.com/r/ChapoTrapHouse/ [1]

* DuckDuckGo: https://np.reddit.com/r/ChapoTrapHouse/ [2]

* Bing: https://np.reddit.com/r/ChapoTrapHouse/ [3]

* Yahoo: https://np.reddit.com/r/ChapoTrapHouse/ [4]

[1] https://www.google.com/search?q=Reddit+ChapoTrapHouse

[2] https://duckduckgo.com/?q=Reddit+ChapoTrapHouse

[3] https://www.bing.com/search?q=Reddit+ChapoTrapHouse

[4] https://search.yahoo.com/search?p=Reddit+ChapoTrapHouse

---

I'd love a simpler explanation than "Google being politically biased Big Brother", but I can't see one.


> All subreddit content is available under both www.reddit.com and np.reddit.com. (I'm not 100% sure why Reddit has both.)

np.reddit.com stands for "no participation". np.reddit.com disables comment and voting. It's intended so that links to niche subreddits from popular subreddits like /r/BestOf don't result in a flood of outsider activity that disrupts the niche subreddit.


"np" is being treated as a country code, like every other two letter string. xy.reddit.com also works. Country codes were meant for localization.

Somehow moderators decided to start using it for "no participation", and many subreddits use custom CSS to disable commenting and voting on np.reddit.com/r/whatever. But np.reddit.com with custom styles off works just like normal reddit.

I'm sure Nepal is very offended.


The singular form of "data" isn't "anecdote".

If you search "news" on Google, the 2nd result is Fox News[1] (first being Google News). Half the suggested articles by Google on my phone are from Fox News, even though I've never clicked on any article from there. I do not use that to conclude that Google is politically biased.

1. https://www.google.com/search?q=news


It's generally poor form to direct link a Google search as a reference as you can never be sure if the results will be the same tomorrow or if the person clicking it will get personalized results that differ from those you get.


I agree with that too. That's how GP was providing "evidence" for their claims, however, so it seemed a fitting way to respond.


The parent poster was inputting the search term "Reddit The_Donald"

(https://www.google.com/search?q=Reddit+The_Donald)

Whether or not you are logged into Reddit, the first page of Google results (and I suspect the rest of them) don't display the actual link to the /r/The_Donald subreddit. It _does_ link to a bunch of articles about how the sub was quarantined, and the first result (for me) is a wikipedia page.


I'll second this - Google is starting to hide things that it deems objectionable and I've found myself using DDG now and then for controversial topics.


Sometimes I find myself searching for something I specifically remember in the past, but I can only find one side of the story. Then I remember, "oh yeah, I have to use duckduckgo for political subjects."

Google's bias has gotten especially noticeable this past year.


I'm glad that we are at a point where we can point out obvious political bias by Google without being trashed as nutjob conspiracy theorists.


But now they have all the Fox News crackpot stories featured in the news feed. What bias?


You do know that DDG just serves Bing organic results, right ?


People keep saying this, but from what I could find on DDG's website, Bing is just one of several sources they use, one of which is their own crawler.


No need to take my word for it, just search on both and look at the 10 blue links.

Makes you think why they present Google as compromising your privacy, but they're dead-silent when it comes to Microsoft. Or Yandex, their other search partner.


I just tried this and the first 2 results matched up, but the rest were different. And not just ordering (on the first page at least) — DuckDuckGo had some Bing didn't, and vice versa.


What was your query ?


If all DuckDuckGo did was proxy my search request through to Bing while stripping away all identifying information, while not storing any identifying information themselves, they would still achieve the goal of securing my privacy.

It's not about search engines seeing search requests, it's about tying them to particular people.


Privacy is a big deal, but even when privacy is guaranteed it's still a problem that the public's ability to find information on the Internet is effectively controlled by two large tech companies, Google and Microsoft. I hope that eventually we have a lot more competing search engines.


Whatever makes you happy as a user. If they make you think your privacy is respected, all the more power to you.

It really boils down to this: Can you trust a small company that chooses to grow via smearing campaigns, provides sub-par results, and _claims_ that it protects your data while sometimes feeding your queries off-shore, or the tech leader that tells you exactly what it knows about you, allows you to search privately and is widely believed to be the best search offering ?


Is that a serious question? I trust DDG infinitely more than I trust google, because google openly admits they are abusing me where as DDG states in clear writing that they are not. I mean it is possible that DDG is lying, but what could they do that is _worse_ than google?


You have misinterpreted my post. It is an "if-then" statement, not a claim about whatever DDG may currently do.

However, I will say that I don't see a hell of a lot of point in playing more-contrarian-than-thou on this topic. If DDG put its entire staff onto full time evil, they still could not, in my personal opinion, match Google. Contrarianess may feel good and be fun in internet posts, but it's no way to actually make decisions.


Just tried with diffeomorphism. The first two links to wikipedia and mathworld are the same (also the first links on google). Everything else is different.

But don't let facts get in the way of your "makes you think" theories.



It's more complicated than that. Bing sells results and charges a lot, Yahoo BOSS used to sell 2 different levels of results, one older (and cheaper) than the normal Bing feed and one much older (and even cheaper.)

So if it's a query with a lot of temporal churn in the results, it's easy to be confused.


Switched to DDG + Brave browser on my laptop and I am surprised how subtly different browsing feels with this combo. Simply you realize how "watched" you feel on Google products and the tracked internet.

Without realizing it there is a "how would this search/page visit etc. look on a tracked profile" process running in my head that is greatly reduced by DDG+Brave. A chilling effect not just on speech, but on browsing behavior that we have to counteract.


I’ve found a similar effect by switching email provider. On Gmail (and others) I feel watched, and wonder how does this message/notification look for my profile?


I've found that it's becoming increasingly hard to browse the internet in Brave and Firefox because a. the increasing monopoly of Blink (doesn't apply to Brave) and b. how interconnected a lot of this tracking seems to be with the routine operation of sites i visit


So why do you mention Brave if your comment doesn't apply?


It does apply to part B and Firefox also has tracking protection.


>Brave You are aware Brave is way worse than Google? They took crypto funds in people's names without telling anybody (this is essentially stealing however you put it) they injected unique identifiers into Http headers and their premise of fingerprinting defense is a joke seeing their browser is based on Webkit/Blink.


Why did you need to create a new account to post this?


I've replaced my usage of DDG sadly, with startpage, I get superior results. Found myself way too often prefixing queries with !g especially for technical or localised (UK) stuff.


From Startpage: "You can’t beat Google when it comes to online search. So we’re paying them to use their brilliant search results in order to remove all trackers and logs."

It sounds like you're just using Google without the branding/tracking.


And now the question is, how is Startpage paying Google without monetizing its users?


If the product is free, you're the product. I don't know anything about Startpage, but I bet we'll find they're tracking something...


Startpage shows ads, just like DuckDuckGo: https://support.startpage.com/index.php?/Knowledgebase/Artic...


Makes sense. So I was right; you are the product. They want to get ads in front of users. Note that there's nothing inherently wrong with that.


tl;dr they're paid to serve ads based on anonymized search terms

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


Yes, they use Google results without tracking.


That's not my experience generally with technical and UK stuff. I do wonder why people seem to have radically different experiences.


Why not prefix with !s ?

// Ahem.


I made the switch to DDG from Google back around 2013/2014. Rarely do I ever need the !g to find anything, and frankly with all the inline ads on Google, I'm having a harder time navigating those results these days.


Every time I see a comment like this on HN, I'm quite frankly shocked that so many tech oriented people don't use ad blockers. I use UBlock Origin, and I haven't seen an ad on Google in years at this point...


Turns out I don't see the inline ads on Google anymore. Not sure when that changed.

I was using NoScript from 2010 until FireFox Quantum came out and broke things. Since then I've been on UBlock + UMatrix.

Agreed, seeing the internet without an ad blocker is a terrifying experience indeed.


I’ve been using it almost exclusively for a few months and I think I’m going to switch back. DDG is really bad at showing results from my own country near the top, which is really annoying when I wish to purchase something. I imagine the experience is much better in the United States as that’s where all the top results come from.


1. I really appreciate that DDG shows me results deemed relevant globally or pertinent to the search query (and its language), rather than trying to guess where I am and what I want to see based on that. Now I find using Google, particularly when using a VPN, rather annoying (no, I don't speak Swedish and I don't want to know about Swedish Python groups, thanks).

2. You can easily ask DDG to show you country specific results by the switch on top, though (and you choose which country).


Have you tried the DDG setting where you can specify your region to get region-specific results?


I use DDG for almost everything now because it's mostly just as good as google. I think there's still some cases where Google is a little better: for example with Developer/technical searches.


This statistics page is amazing, giving annual, monthly, and daily query counts dating back to April 2010, and no other data.

When I first read it I was expecting to see a list of the most frequently searched terms, which would be front and center in a Google report, but goes against everything DDG stands for. :)


Context is google's strong suit: Local search, using my email/location/phone data to enhance or outright create a new category of results. For everyday search terms DDG wins hands down.

I end up using both accordingly to the use case at hand.


Competition is always a good thing for consumers, of course. I'm loving it.


How long would it take to overtake Google at this growth rate, if maintained?

I'm not saying it's realistic to maintain the growth rate, just want to get an intuition for what the current speed means.


I don't have an answer for you, but just want to mention that Google is a moving target, and if DDG ever became a significant threat to them it's very likely that they'd do something to counter it, such as just buying DDG and possibly killing it off, releasing a separate DDG competitor product, or changing their own modus operandi.

In fact, for all we know, DDG might be owned by Google already.


For what it's worth, Google did give DDG the domain duck.com, even though they didn't need to. A four letter word .com domain that matches your company name is hard to come by.


uh what that last line is real conspiracy theory territory


What does "conspiracy theory territory" mean, and why would something as commonplace as a large company investing in small competitors in the same space fit this?


It’s my understanding that StartPage is a proxy for Google Search, and DDG is both a proxy for Bing, Yahoo, and other places, with some “instant answers” thrown in, like JS minifiers, color pickers, and other tools.

I’d like to see DDG do some of its own indexing or perhaps indicate where results come from. Is this Bing? Is this Yahoo? Is there a percentage weight from both engines? This analysis would be cool.


I wonder how much of this increase is people using bang commands to search other sites using DDG (where DDG just redirects the search to the destination site, like how the Firefox search bar has the option of searching on other sites, but with additional network trips). Whenever I have to use a non-Firefox browser that doesn’t have a separate search bar (with configurable search engines), I use bang commands to get to Wikipedia or IMDB, for example. I also use !s (for Startpage) and !g (for Google) when the DDG results aren’t satisfactory.

DDG is still not a perfect replacement for Google for me, but it is a replacement most of the time, and it is my default search engine on browsers I use.

One feature I don’t have on DDG after all these years is limiting the search results to the past year. I go to Startpage whenever I need that.


>One feature I don’t have on DDG after all these years is limiting the search results to the past year. I go to Startpage whenever I need that.

They added it just recently. You can now limit the search results to the past year.


Thank you for pointing that out! This makes my search life and sticking with DDG a lot more easier than before.


I switched to DDG recently when google stopped showing URLs in search results - that was the last straw for me.


I'm glad to see DDG growing in popularity, largely because Google won't place my website in search results. Bing does, DDG does, Yahoo does, but Google does not (unless I explicitly search for the exact URL). Depending on your view this is why Google's results are so good or bad.


I'll bite. What's the site ?


I'm not interested in posting it on HN (though that is a good way to improve ranking on Google). It's a small static website with a political theme. The title is fairly unique, but not made of uncommon words. Every now and then I search for it on Google and get a good laugh from all the garbage that shows up.


Hopefully not something like syphilis2.net…


Still about 1% of Google's traffic. DDG sees <50 million queries/day, Google sees 63,000 per second, or 226 million/hr.

https://www.impactbnd.com/blog/seo-statistics

Google actually lost some share beginning August 2018, to Baidu.

I've been using DDG as my principle search since about 2013, and very happily. It's fast, relevant, bangs are awesome (see earlier comment), and there's now a "most recent year" date-range search, which is useful.

I still use Google when I'm interested in (rough) results counts, specific date ranges, or soem specialty searches such as Google Books or Scholar (though I'm finding alternatives).


Being 1% of Google's anything is a commendable achievement.


Are there any details regarding the hardware setup they run/use/own to run this all?


Duckduckgo uses AWS for hosting. Although they have some crawlers hosted inhouse. IIRC their CEO told this once in an interview.


On my phone I installed Firefox mobile using DDG default search about a year ago. But, whoops, it's a Pixel and so I occasionally use the OS's Google search.

I've not noticed a difference in result quality since the switch.


I was in the same boat and then started using the "LawnChair" launcher. The only major feature its missing from the pixel launcher that I can tell is that it doesn't have the most recent Android 10 gesture navigation yet. Aside from that it seems to be a fully open source implementation of the Pixel Launcher but with the added ability to remove the search bar from your android home screen.


I also use lawnchair because I couldn't delete the google search from my "desktop" on my phone and that irritated me.

Lawnchair is great, I always forget it's even there.


I tried LawnChair (get it, it's a pun on the word "launcher"!) a while ago, but switched back to Nova. I may have to give it a try again.


I love how much you can customize Nova launcher, but the lack of ability to completely turn off animations was a deal breaker for me. Even with android developer mode turned on and all animations at the system level were turned off, nova still seemed to do a lot of animating.


Nice find, thanks.


I still don't care for their search results UI. There's a lot of wasted space on widescreens, content isn't centered, and the font blows. It really triggers me.


Try adjusting the settings, you can fix all of them: https://duckduckgo.com/settings#


Mother of God, you are right! You just changed my life for the better.


I repeatedly tried to switch to DDG from Google for the past several years. DDG kept improving, but always fell short. About a year ago, I felt that DDG's results surpassed Google's in quality. Ironically, I think Google's "personalization" has something to do with it. I don't think Google is serving results for my benefit because serendipity is part of why I am searching in the first place.

I also swapped Chrome for Brave. Thank you, DDG.


Isn't Brave the browser that steals peoples branding and sets up fake accounts on their behalf without consent?

Edit: Yeah, I found this: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18734999


I'm using DDG for less than a year now as my primary search engine.

One day I just decided to switch to DuckDuckGo and give it a try for at least two months before giving up. And it turns out two months was enough to kill the bad habit. Also it turns out Google being the only good search engine is just a myth. I hope more users give it a try.

I sometimes use Google search for online shopping or as spell checker.


how does ddg get its google results? Last I checked the api is gone. If I wanted to do the same thing as ddg, is it still possible?


DDG is an entirely different search engine, they don't use Google.

If you want to build your own engine, go ahead :)


I mean the !g bang - DDG has the option of getting results from Google and Bing. Bing offers an API for $6/10000 queries, but Google does not - I'm curious how they have access to Google search results.


!g doesn't load googles results on duckduckgo's page, it just forwards you to the appropriate google page. A quick test suggests the format is

    https://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=<query>
(Google might have redirected me after whatever ddg directed me to, but just using this format should work)


The www.startpage.com is not so bad either.


Whenever I feel I'm not getting what I want from DDG (which is rare), I'll re-type my query as "my query !sp" to get startpage results. Between the two, I _never_ need to visit google for search.


Why do people who use DDG -- presumably for privacy -- then use !g if they feel the need, and not !sp?


That's a good tip. Presumably fewer folks know about startpage. But even reducing the number of searches that you send to Google is a privacy improvement.


Does anyone know how these statistics were generated? I am curious if the data takes in to count traffic generated by bots. It is cool to see growth from a search engine other then Google. It would be nice to see more diverse options like in the past.


These traffic numbers are the number of anonymous searches we serve per day. We don't know how many individual users we have, but we do try to take into account bots.

Disclaimer: DuckDuckGo staff


Thank you for your feedback.


Nice to see the competition. Qwant (without JS) is interesting too.


DDG without JS - https://duckduckgo.com/html/ Even lighter DDG - https://duckduckgo.com/lite/


I started using DDG after Google settled the lawsuit with Getty Images. The "view image" button is incredible handy.


Yeah because Catalina switch the default Safari search bar search to it.

paul7986 23 days ago [flagged]

Hopefully they will add an email service and or integrate iCloud email into DDG as they did with Apple Maps.

I loathe Google!


I don't doubt that your grievance is at least partly legitimate. But your comments on this topic are crossing into spam. No more of this, please.

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21332308 has more explanation.


Why do you want email service to be provided by the same company? Also, what's wrong with Outlook.com for example. AFAIK they don't sell your data.


I want to stop using Google .. Gmail.. Maps, etc.. and want to move over and use one company's integrated services I trust.


> I want to stop using Google .. Gmail.. Maps, etc..

Agreed.

> and want to move over and use one company's services I trust.

What do you think got you in this mess in the first place?


A Google by any other name would operate as evilly.


[flagged]


They blatantly steal intellectual property from the little guy. Here's a story about them stealing from a MIT student whom they invited out for an interview/demo her invention.

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18566929


That is the reason you "loathe" Google? it seems it was act of an individual at best, and that is if the claim has merit. Loathe is a heavy word, weird.

paul7986 23 days ago [flagged]

If you read the HN thread... I tell my similar story of being invited and meeting Google ATAP. They are pigs and its not just that one R&D department either!

mda 23 days ago [flagged]

I call bullshit. But yeah.


Bullshit ... that they invited me out to demo to discuss putting my technology (SpeakerBlast) into the Moto X in 2013 or about the MIT student? In her blog post she has emails showing them getting caught in the act.

As for me here's the now expired NDA they had me sign; Google in 2013 just bought Motorola and they were working on the Moto X.

https://ryanspahn.com/motorola-google-Expired-NDA2013.pdf

I don't lie! What do I get from telling people that Google kicked me in the face? Only thing I can do is tell my story in the hopes it helps out other little guy/girl inventors when Google comes knocking in terms of what they should do.


I don't think you're lying; clearly something significant happened. But to judge by your previous comments and our previous exchanges, this is becoming an idée fixe and we need you to stop posting so repetitively about it. An internet forum audience has no way of adjudicating what actually happened, and HN doesn't exist for reciting old grievances.

Please don't keep posting like this, or https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21315319, or https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21271732, etc.


You call an organization "Pigs" for this? Also I don't understand what happened? Did they steal your technology?


See https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18567672

Also, what do you call people who abuse their power like Harvey Weinstein?


I really don't get how people can trust US companies who have privacy as one of their main selling points. You are aware US/UK companies by definition cannot be private regardless what they say themselves.

If you want privacy use EU companies. If you don't want to use EU companies use Google since contrary to DDG they are heavily controlled by law. If you like the bangs of DDG use a native app like Albert or Alfred which is way more accessible anyway.


> You are aware US/UK companies by definition cannot be private regardless what they say themselves.

There is a HUGE difference between "we give your information to advertisers (or ourselves, if an advertiser)" and "we give your information to law enforcement when legally required."

---

"You are aware US/UK banks by definition cannot be secure regardless of what they say about themselves."

Yes, but it's a far cry from just leaving my cash on my doorstep.

Replace your checking account with Bitcoin if you want, but a bank offers enough security/privacy for most people.

---

> If you want privacy use EU companies.

The EU has gone back and forth on wanting to allow/forbid backdoors.


That wasn't my point. My point is that US/UK companies are known for selling data that they are supposed to protect. Compare that to EU companies.


I understood your point to be "US/UK companies by definition cannot be private" (i.e. for legal reasons). Which I think is true but a relatively minor problem compared to the status quo.

If your point was "US/UK companies in practice are not usually private", that is probably true.


There are two separate issues: the commercial exploitation of personal data, and state surveillance.

My understanding is, that while the US has virtually no statutory protection of privacy, DDG has a privacy policy, and deliberately violating it would be fraudulent, contravene COPPA, and make them liable in tort law.

As far as state surveillance goes, the EU is not a haven, the UK, despite being a member, is one of the worst offenders. Some European countries have relatively good surveillance laws, such as Iceland and Switzerland (neither being in the European Union).


AFAICT the USA/UK "CLOUD" treaty rips a hole in the privacy of customers in other countries where the company has a UK/USA presence and prepares to non-consensually violate that privacy.

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21307082


A native app? Native to what?

I'm trying to search the web... from a web browser. I'd be interested to hear what EU-based search engines are out there that have privacy as one of their values.

Also if Google is heavily controlled by law, then what laws don't apply to DDG that would make me safer using Google?


SwissCows might be slightly better per jurisdiction. DDG is blocking Tor users pretty often these days.


That's strange. We support Tor both verbally and financially, and have an onion address for Tor users (http://3g2upl4pq6kufc4m.onion/). If you have any more details on this, such as a time of day it tends to happen, frequency of searches that trigger it, or browser/OS, I'd be grateful if you could let me know or feel free to email open [at] duckduckgo.com

Disclaimer: DuckDuckGo staff


I might have the wrong 'Albert' in mind, but if you mean the 'quick launcher': how is that related to a search engine in any way?

One is for navigating apps, desktop and offline content. The other for discovering online content.


Because those launchers can query search engines per keyword just like bangs


The UK is part of the EU (and will probably continue to be for at least another week).

If the EU's privacy laws aren't sufficient in the UK I'm not sure why you think they are sufficient in the rest of the EU.




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