EDIT: Okay, I really don't like the positioning of the "official site" result. To me, it should be below the sponsored links, not above. The reason is that when you're searching for something where DDG doesn't have an "official site" entry, the first search result appears below the sponsored links. However, when DDG knows the "official site" for your search query, it places that result above the sponsored links. In practice, this means that you have to look in two places for the "first" result - above the sponsored links and below. Placing the "official site" result below the sponsored links would resolve this inconsistency.
That's interesting on official site placement. We thought it would be better for the user to put that official site link first (it's also in the zero-click info box btw). But it people think it should be below, I have no problem with that.
If I'd had just 5 seconds to glance at the page and then answer the question, "what was the top result for 'hacker news'?", I would have sworn up and down that it was "The Hacker News Network" and there was just empty space above the ad.
It should be the first site listed with all the other sites IMO.
Otherwise it's the "official" sponsored link in my mind. Which doesn't make much sense.
The zero click info and official site badge are both grey which makes them fade away into the background; not stand out like intended.
It wasn't until I read the comments that I realized that I missed the link that I would have wanted, and the results were good.
It's not ideal that people have been trained to subconsciously skip over certain results, but it's something that has to be accounted for. Otherwise you're going to leave the completely wrong impression in a significant portion of your potential users's minds.
The other day, I went to the kitchen to eat an orange. After a moment, I changed my mind because I didn't feel like peeling it. I quickly realized that it was silly to let 10 seconds of work prevent me from enjoying what I wanted, but that is the power of even the smallest obstacle.
I, personally, wouldn't mind the sponsored links if only they were relevant. Of course, if they were relevant, sponsoring wouldn't be necessary.
I can only assume it won't be there forever for obvious reasons, but it's nice to have it for now (especially because of the UI issues mentioned elsewhere in this thread).