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DuckDuckGo is blowing up (duckduckgo.com)
1199 points by MatthewPhillips 834 days ago | comments


epi0Bauqu 834 days ago | link

Thank you all! (I'm the founder.)

In response to a lot of the comments here, please know that two major things we're working on are better programming queries (https://duckduckgo.com/tech.html -- one of my new favorites https://duckduckgo.com/?q=alternative+to+picasa) and speed.

For speed, just this week we upgraded our whole caching system, which should significantly speed up a lot of queries. I'd be interested to know if anyone has noticed any difference over the past day or so. This change should equalize a lot of the location differences, which is the main issue. In some parts of the world we were way slower.

Also, for anyone wanting to get involved we've been open sourcing more and more (https://github.com/duckduckgo). We're working on better entry points, but one could start here now: https://github.com/duckduckgo/duckduckgo/wiki. For programming documentation in particular, this is the repo: https://github.com/duckduckgo/zeroclickinfo-fathead. That will answer queries like https://duckduckgo.com/?q=perl+split

On the back-end we could also use some sysadmin help :). Here's our hiring info: http://help.duckduckgo.com/customer/portal/articles/216387

Of course, we're also always looking for feedback, the more detailed/specific the better: https://duckduckgo.com/feedback.html

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reasonattlm 834 days ago | link

I redirect to Google for my site search at Fight Aging! at the moment because it returns far better results than DDG, and with my ~8000 posts and countless topics doing a great job with my own custom search just doesn't make economic sense. If DDG could do as well as Google for the archives I'd switch in an instant; I prefer the idea of sending users somewhere other than Google for queries that may involve medical conditions. But results are the trump card; they have to be good.

I tend to cover any given topic in a brace of interlinked posts across years, and all topics are complex. e.g.:

https://encrypted.google.com/search?q=site%3Afightaging.org+...

https://duckduckgo.com/?q=site%3Afightaging.org+gut+bacteria

DDG misses the AGE connection in the results, which is important in this topic.

Many searches are upon specific factors or markers or genes, and for these DDG falls down badly e.g.:

https://encrypted.google.com/search?q=site%3Afightaging.org+...

https://duckduckgo.com/?q=site%3Afightaging.org+IL-1

https://encrypted.google.com/search?q=site%3Afightaging.org+...

https://duckduckgo.com/?q=site%3Afightaging.org+p27

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tansey 834 days ago | link

At least you get indexed by DDG. Curvio has been live for 2 months now, Google has indexed over 2000 of our pages, and we're the #1 result for over 100 different Google queries. Meanwhile, DDG still thinks you're searching for "Cuervo" [1] and has not even indexed our homepage, which has hundreds of backlinks at this point.

[1] http://duckduckgo.com/?q=curvio

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_delirium 834 days ago | link

I think that might boil down to Bing apparently not having indexed you. From what I can tell, DDG gets a decent proportion of its search results from the Yahoo BOSS API, which I believe is these days mostly feeding Bing data.

The results there look pretty similar, anyway: http://www.bing.com/search?q=curvio

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AznHisoka 834 days ago | link

This is the problem... In the short run, DDG may be winning small victories. In the long run, they definitely need to build their own index. They need to at least start now, then turn the switch on when it's ready. Of course it's gonna require major infrastructure, but they are building a search engine, so that's a given.

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minwcnt5 834 days ago | link

Building their own index is only worthwhile if they can build a good ranking algorithm to go along with it. And they're at a huge disdvantage in doing so because they don't track users to improve quality whereas Bing does.

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alecco 833 days ago | link

it could be an open source project, i'd be interested

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TomAnthony 832 days ago | link

You could start by playing around with this data: http://commoncrawl.org/

The ways you can interact with it currently are limited, but I think that'll improve.

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alecco 832 days ago | link

That project looks amazing. But it'd be nicer to have some sort of compressed raw dump to use different tools.

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sjs382 834 days ago | link

Yeah, getting indexed seems like a problem with DDG sometimes. Is there a way to submit a sitemap.xml or something similar?

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tansey 834 days ago | link

Nope. They explicitly say they do not plan to accept sitemaps.

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oldstrangers 833 days ago | link

Kind of silly, but then again I've never tried to make a search engine.

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thwest 834 days ago | link

Thanks for having people answer feedback with real emails. My feedback has been mostly about the existence of malware-wrapped download links for popular tools like FileZilla, PuTTY, vlc, etc. I've gotten good support responses that have removed particular links, but how do I bubble this up into a feature with the goal of never showing a user a non-official download?

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jordhy 834 days ago | link

I wish to thank you for DDG. I left Google 1 year ago and have never looked back. DDG is better in every way for me. You provide a great service and a big peace of mind for all the hackers of the planet. Now we can compete with the empire without worrying for the empire to copy our ideas. Your courage in competing with this giant is an example we should all copy!

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cpeterso 834 days ago | link

There are alternatives to DuckDuckGo, but not Google?? :)

https://duckduckgo.com/?q=alternative+to+duckduckgo

https://duckduckgo.com/?q=alternative+to+google

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elvisds 834 days ago | link

alternativeTo seems to call it googlecom

https://duckduckgo.com/?q=alternative+to+googlecom http://alternativeto.net/software/googlecom/

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julien_p 834 days ago | link

I've certainly noticed a speed difference recently. DDG feels pretty snappy to me now, whereas before it was annoyingly slow, easily taking a second or so to load. I'm located in Luxembourg.

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hcmeier 834 days ago | link

Same here (Switzerland/Germany). GGD is still not as fast as Google (noticeable delay between the zero-click info and the search results) but definitely a big improvement.

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thecombjelly 834 days ago | link

I've certainly noticed a difference in speed. I've been using DDG solid for around a couple years now and the only thing I ever really lament is the speed, so I'm very glad you guys are working on it. And it is definitely getting better. And, as always, I can't live without the disambiguation feature, it saves me so much time.

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dredmorbius 834 days ago | link

I am a fan.

I'll also note that what you serve in day ... is about what Google serves in a minute.

http://www.quora.com/How-many-search-queries-does-Google-ser...

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freddot 833 days ago | link

I've been using DDG at home and at work for at least a year and boy as there been improvements! First of all, I'm swedish and queries in swedish have improved immensly! I can't remember DDG ever being notably slow, so I don't know for the speed-up (I don't care much for speed). But answers in english have improved in quality by magnitude of 10s. When I started using DDG I'd have to check back with google about 1/3 of my queries, but now it's around 1/50, and I can't say the way I do my searches has had any radical changes either.

Thanks for this

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memset 834 days ago | link

Way cool. Going to try using this as my default search engine for a while.

I really really like the "alternative to" feature. What could I do to help you get better at alternatives which are not as popular? (eg, "alternative to cheetahmail" or "alternative to grubhub" or "alternative to xkcd"?)

Also, what kind of feedback would you need to help improve the tech-related searches? Like "ebcdic table" or "1010 in hex"?

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rpicard 834 days ago | link

The alternatives are pulled from http://alternativeto.net so adding to their site will add to the zero-click info.

You can contribute to tech-related searches by contributing to the open source zero-click info (see this tutorial https://github.com/duckduckgo/duckduckgo/wiki/Open-Source-Pl...).

You can also send in ideas here: https://duckduckgo.uservoice.com/forums/5168-plugins.

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TeMPOraL 834 days ago | link

Obligatory meta-comment:

http://alternativeto.net/software/alternativeto/

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smsm42 834 days ago | link

I tried it as default engine for a month and unfortunately had to go back to Google. There are some nice touches (such as automatic wikipedia links) but in many cases the results are just not as good as Google gets.

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joedevon 833 days ago | link

The shortcuts are what converted me to a happy user. Programming question? "my search !so". Map? "address !m". Will True Knowledge have a good answer? "How old is Obama? !tk". For Wolfram Alpha: "How old is Obama !wa". Is Google really the best place for the answer? "who won the australian open !g". Even if 90% of your searches are google, ddg is a great way to access it!

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smsm42 833 days ago | link

The thing is that, for example, for programming questions google finds it on SO without any shortcuts needed. If I type address in Google it will give me a link to the map anyway. I know it takes a second to type !whatever, but you need to remember that. And if you need to stop and think "was it !so or !s or !stack or whatever it was?" you lose your concentration and next thing you know you've spent half hour browsing unrelated articles on Wikipedia. Exaggerating a bit but the point is these !things are a speedbump.

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slowpoke 832 days ago | link

I disagree. Most of them are extremely intuitive. Heck, I've once found out about new bangs I didn't know by typing in the name/abbreviation of the site as a bang on a whim, and it worked!

Also, if you think the bangs are unintuitive, what's your opinion on keyboard shortcuts? It's basically the same thing.

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mironathetin 834 days ago | link

I agree, DDG is very cool.

As I understood a while ago that Google tracks my search habits, I avoid using it. I went back to WebCrawler, Cuil, Altvista, Bing... None of these compare to DDG in terms of quality.

Great job. It is time to get an alternative to Google. Don't be evil is just a silly marketing gag.

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dmoy 834 days ago | link

Does Bing not track your searches?

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mironathetin 830 days ago | link

I don't know, but I expect they do. This is too big business nowadays.

But, as I written, I did not check and don't want to spread rumors.

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perlgeek 834 days ago | link

there's already a goodie for base conversions (though currently base conversions are done via Wolfram Alpha, not sure why).

Ideas for more goodies are on https://duckduckgo.uservoice.com/

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crazedpsyc 834 days ago | link

Not sure what uservoice is, but there is also an official trello board: https://trello.com/board/duckduckgo-open-source-plugins/4f08...

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didip 834 days ago | link

Wow, the visual refresh really did you good. Congrats!

And I didn't know that DDG is written in Perl, good looking Perl too.

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berntb 834 days ago | link

The first thing I saw in the code was that it used one of my favorite modules, Moo, which is a neat subset of "Moose".

http://search.cpan.org/~ribasushi/Moo-0.009013/lib/Moo.pm

Even I can (almost) write good looking code with Moo(se). :-)

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white_devil 834 days ago | link

Now that you have investors, they'll expect you to multiply DDG's worth. So how do you make money with it?

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webwright 834 days ago | link

Making money with a search engine is a solved problem. Making a search engine worth switching to is not-- that's what they are (and should be) focused on. I'd wager their investors are telling them the same thing.

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dfc 834 days ago | link

This was news to me. What is the solution to making money as a privacy preserving search engine?

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ef4 834 days ago | link

You can still make money off of targeted ads. The difference is you can only target the current query.

I also think DuckDuckGo hands out affiliate links to places like Amazon.

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marshray 834 days ago | link

Screw that! Just keep giving me the service I love for free!

Sorry, I know you need to make a living. :-) Just don't try to do it by leveraging my identity or trying my patience, please?

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aidos 834 days ago | link

There are sponsored links - like on Google.

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mike-cardwell 834 days ago | link

Also, he uses affiliate programs. So if a link in the search results goes to Amazon for example, he'll add his affiliate code to the link.

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lusr 833 days ago | link

Any idea why Google doesn't do that? I'm guessing it's against the terms and conditions? In which case I have to wonder why DDG can do it.

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mike-cardwell 833 days ago | link

I'm guessing it's not against the T&C's, otherwise Amazon would have closed his affiliate account by now. They're quite good at that.

Google probably doesn't see the point. I'm sure there's something in the T&C's that would allow Amazon to close an affiliate account for any reason they want to. If they still get the same amount of traffic from Google either way, they'd close it.

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gsvolt7 834 days ago | link

Since 3/2/2012 I started using Trisquel linux (Was feeling guilty having used non-free linux distros so wanted to pay homage to R. Stallman).

DDG comes as default in Trisquel with web browser, Midori. I usually keep Javascript disabled.

Actually DDG's javascript less search result is in my opinion the best thing I appreciate about DDG.

Thanks for your hard work. I'll see if I can contribute to the project in any way I can.

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umjames 834 days ago | link

Congrats! Go Philly-based startups!!!!

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mcmonkey 834 days ago | link

Hi, nice work =) I started using ddg when it appeared on the udacity "how to build a search engine" course.

Thought it was an awesome name and had to check it out, and since I was already considering switching from google it was good timing.

keep up the good work =)

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iusable 834 days ago | link

I LOVE your work. So happy to get simple, clean & shareable results again!

Any chance of integrated media galleries? I think Bing & Google are really effin this up.

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epi0Bauqu 834 days ago | link

Can you be more specific as to what you mean/want in this area?

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iusable 834 days ago | link

Right now when I search for something like 'reddit logo png' I only get links no inline embedded images in a gallery like format.

Would be awesome to Not leave DDG and preview the image (jpg/png/gif) results in a gallery.

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iusable 833 days ago | link

Hope that made more sense now :)

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jsz0 834 days ago | link

Can you guys talk Apple into adding it as a preset search-bar option in Safari? It's kind of a pain to add it yourself or get out of the habit of using the search-bar

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pirateking 833 days ago | link

I use SafariOmnibar[1] to add DDG as my default search provider. Since an omnibar will be shipped by default with Safari in Mountain Lion, I am also hoping that Apple will consider providing DDG as an option for search engine preference (especially on iOS as well).

[1] http://hackemist.com/SafariOmnibar/

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drcongo 833 days ago | link

If you're a GlimmerBlocker user there's a filter you can install which redirects safari searches to DDG...

http://glimmerblocker.org/wiki/Filters

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abc_lisper 834 days ago | link

Thanks dude. Thanks for giving us some hope for privacy.

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ronnix 834 days ago | link

Definitely feels faster here in Paris, France.

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mike_ivanov 834 days ago | link

Thank you. You're awesome.

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baturinsky 834 days ago | link

One thing I miss from google is auto-fixing keyboard language layout.

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geoffw8 834 days ago | link

Wow, thats a great curve. Just wanted to throw in my personal experience with DuckDuckGo, and it doesn't necessarily reflect on DuckDuckGo specifically, however:

After seeing them pop up here once or twice quite recently I thought I'd give it a go, I opened up preferences in Chrome and switched my default search over to DDG. It felt good, made a nice change but was certainly a bit "odd". I found what I wanted, most of the time albeit it with a slight drop in quality vs Google.

But my biggest gripe with them was confidence. I'd just started out at a new job as a programmer and as you can imagine, I was searching for a good few things, usually things I was struggling with and I just didn't feel sure that I was getting the best results I possibly could be. You might think thats totally crazy, but when your battling an issue as many of you know, you want more than anything to work out whats going on. I didn't have any margin for error, I wanted the best results right there that second.

Specifics aside, knowing that Google is far superior in their results makes it real difficult to use another search engine really, extra features (!so etc) or no extra features. I personally search because I need to "find" something and I usually don't know where that something is, opening up Stack Overflow isn't that much of a chore for me. Its the other bit I need help with.

Anyway, I commend their mission and hope they succeed in taking a fair slice of the market. I think he's a great entrepreneur and I wish him the best of luck. I can't imagine what it must be like to be head on with... Google.

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pushingbits 834 days ago | link

I find that I am slowly losing confidence in Google. What I often do is input searches in the form: "general term", "specific term", then click on a link and immediately do a find for the specific term I searched for. In the last few months, the specific term I searched for often does not exist on the linked site at all, which I find quite annoying.

I tried bing a couple of times, but the results are even worse.

Maybe Google verbatim mode will fix the problem? I've set up a quick search recently, but have yet to start using it.

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moultano 834 days ago | link

Would love to see some example queries to debug if you have them handy. (You can check your search history https://www.google.com/history/ to jog your memory if you have it turned on.)

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pushingbits 834 days ago | link

Here's one: python list popleft

Third result is: http://docs.python.org/library/stdtypes.html

6th result is: http://stackoverflow.com/questions/4426663/how-do-i-remove-t...

Neither one of those contains "popleft".

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comex 834 days ago | link

I don't know - if I had to guess what the query 'python list popleft' meant, it would be 'how to pop the leftmost element from a list', even though the answer does not contain the word 'popleft'.

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smallblacksun 834 days ago | link

Try putting quotes around popleft in your query. That works in this case to get rid of the results that don't specifically include the word.

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zxer 834 days ago | link

In this case it does, but very often doesn't. It seems to me that this happens mostly with rapidly changing websites, as if the cache showed a somewhat later state than when it was indexed.

And this has been an annoyance since years.

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Timothee 834 days ago | link

I know what you mean.

These days, I've been searching for things about Flask with Heroku. So I tend to search for something like "python flask heroku sqlite", and often times, I get results that are not specific to Flask. (NB: I don't know if this example works but you get the idea)

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jonstjohn 834 days ago | link

I hear a lot of people say that google search results are worse than they used to be - personally I have a hard time telling. What's interesting, though, is that nobody is doing search better, which suggests that it a very tough problem to solve, and even with all the resources Google has, they aren't doing it as good as it could be.

So my question is - what is google doing wrong?

Has their search algorithm become worse?

Has the web become more complex?

Have people just become lazy and feel like they should never have to dig beyond the first 10 results to find what they're looking for?

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darklajid 834 days ago | link

My take. Disclaimer: I'm a fan for a while now (lesson to startups: If you reply to feedback quickly and friendly, as Gabriel did in Aug 2010 when I submitted a tiny useless bit of feedback to the site, you'll be hard to remove from my list of 'great things').

That said, I do understand the confidence issue every now and then. For me it seems to arise mostly when DDG only shows half a page or less of results. Those are usually good. But I'm used to all the bullshit Google puts above and below that and sometimes have the feeling of missing out.

A quick check every now and then by now convinced me that I'm just conditioned to expect quantity. Which needs to be corrected.

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pragmatic 834 days ago | link

Interesting.

I've also been demo'ing DDG the last week. As an ahem experienced developer, I've found that most of the time, the results I get from DDG are pretty close to what I'd get with Google, minus Google's interface.

I've built up enough confidence to feel that DDG is going to give me what I need.

I do wish it were a little faster though. Speed is a feature, and I'm sure it's hard to compete with google.

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excuse-me 834 days ago | link

Simple results are better than Google - including the summary of the term grepped from wiki. Complex or rare queries aren't as good.

I use it at home - it's quicker to find out when the new South Park episode is out. But it's less use at work for finding the solution to that weird problem

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adambard 834 days ago | link

I have DDG set as my default, but I admit that that's more or less despite the quality of the search results.

When I'm searching for "discovery" purposes, such as when trying to diagnose an error message, I add a !g. When I want an image, !gi. If I want to look up some library, I use !clojure, !python, !php, etc. The only time I let it fall to DDG is when I'm looking for some specific thing that I don't know the URL for, like "American Airlines", or something that I know has a lot of results of about equivalent quality, like "Pulled Pork Recipe."

I find I'm effectively using DDG as a search routing service. I really enjoy that, and I miss it when I use a computer that's not set up with chrome and ddg as the search default, but I feel like they're missing out on some ad revenue here.

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rplnt 834 days ago | link

Ad confidence; my default search engine is Google's "Feeling Lucky". Many repetitive searches (wiki, imdb, documentation) are so accurate I can skip the step of clicking on results. But most of the time I use keyword searches anyway. With google, images, wolframalpha, tineye (because google image search is still blocked using user agent sniffing), torrentz, public transit, and a few more (including stuff like open a subreddit, so not really a search).

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pubby 834 days ago | link

I generally stick to Google for programming related searches and use DDG for the rest. Hopefully DDG improves to the point where I can use it 100% of the time.

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aidos 834 days ago | link

Interestingly I switched to DDG because I was having to quote too many programming terms in Google. All of them sometimes, just to stop Google from autocorrecting. I still have 'g' wired as my omnibar shortcut for Google though as I don't always find what I'm looking for on DDG.

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gala8y 834 days ago | link

'!g' in DDG redirects you straight to Google.

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demetris 834 days ago | link

If it were possible to take Bing’s search results, throw a handful of people at them and match the quality of Google’s results, Google would not be where it is today.

That is the main problem I see with Duck Duck Go. The quality of its search results depends on Bing. Duck Duck Go can do things to offer something better than Bing, but not that much better that matches Google’s quality.

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koalaman 834 days ago | link

and if Google's allegations a while back are to be believed (http://searchengineland.com/google-bing-is-cheating-copying-...), the quality of Bing's search results depend on Google.

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trotsky 834 days ago | link

the zero click content is often helpful to me, and is certainly a significant upgrade for me over basic bing results.

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thematt 834 days ago | link

Result quality is only one part of the equation. Features is another, which is where DDG seems to be making a land-grab for. Users seem to be responding to this approach.

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luser001 834 days ago | link

You can use the DDG '!g' prefix for that.

For queries which I'd like to double check with Google, I resubmit it to duckduckgo with '!g' prefix. It redirects to Google.

It's a smart move by DDG to help people resist the temptation to make Goog their default search engine.

I removed Goog from my list of Firefox search engines a few weeks ago.

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w1ntermute 834 days ago | link

> Specifics aside, knowing that Google is far superior in their results makes it real difficult to use another search engine really, extra features (!so etc) or no extra features.

Just so you know, you can use keyword searches to get this same functionality directly in your browser for any search engine of your choice.

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swah 834 days ago | link

It's because we've been training to understand that "if it isn't on Google, it doesn't exist". That doesn't seem to be true though (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invisible_Web), but in practical terms, it is...

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gnosis 834 days ago | link

"Specifics aside, knowing that Google is far superior in their results makes it real difficult to use another search engine"

Except that Google is far from delivering superior results. In fact, many of their results are full of spam links and garbage.

One of the main reasons I use DDG over Google is that DDG often delivers better results.

Another major reason is DDG's promises of no-tracking and privacy (which I hope can be verified some day). That alone sets them far above and beyond Google, which is spyware incarnate.

Google is now basically in the exact same position that AltaVista was in when Google came along and ate their lunch. Only Google is much more dominant and wealthier than AltaVista ever was (not to mention their legendary ability to attract and keep talent), so they'll no doubt hang on much longer. But DDG and other search engines are still primed to take a bite at those parts of the business where Google has drop the ball -- like privacy, literal search, and search quality.

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prakash 834 days ago | link

!g "search query" on DDG will do the search on google.

Entire list here: http://duckduckgo.com/bang.html reply

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stroboskop 834 days ago | link

DuckDuckGo is definitely pulling users from Google. By mimicking Facebook, Google has lost its mojo. Stepped right into the "social" honeypot. No news. The more interesting thing is the fantastic feeling more and more people have: that Facebook and Google will take eachother down the spiral.

As for the Google part, right now it's probably just an alarmist prediction, but it's going to be fun to watch un/fold. Especially if DuckDuckGo and other engines continue to get better while practicing their principles instead of a crude mixture of addictive search quality, addictedness to bucks and PR along the lines of "Don't be evil".

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coderdude 834 days ago | link

[1998]

Google is definitely pulling users from Yahoo. By mimicking Alta Vista, Yahoo has lost its mojo. Stepped right into the "portal" honeypot. No news. The more interesting thing is the fantastic feeling more and more people have: that Alta Vista and Yahoo will take eachother down the spiral.

As for the Yahoo part, right now it's probably just an alarmist prediction, but it's going to be fun to watch un/fold. Especially if Google and other engines continue to get better while practicing their principles instead of a crude mixture of addictive search quality, addictedness to bucks and PR along the lines of "Yahhooooo!".

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hkolek 834 days ago | link

Haha. Reminds of the "The social graph is neither" article [1].

"Right now the social networking sites occupy a similar position to CompuServe, Prodigy, or AOL in the mid 90's. At that time each company was trying to figure out how to become a mass-market gateway to the Internet."

[1] http://blog.pinboard.in/2011/11/the_social_graph_is_neither/

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true_religion 834 days ago | link

One difference in this story is....

Google was vertically integrated from the start: They sent out their own bots to scan the internet, they had their own reverse index, and created their own algorithm.

I'm not sure about DDGs backend---but if people use the g! tag, its almost as if DDG is simple chrome for Google.

Maybe that'll be the future: Google will become the maker of engines, and let everyone else make the car.

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FreeFull 834 days ago | link

As far as I know, DDG uses both data from other search engines (Google, Bing) as well as its own crawling bots. If they only used their own crawlers, with the current size of the internet it would take a long time for them to get a good amount of data.

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cromwellian 834 days ago | link

DDG: http://duckduckgo.com/?q=the+movie+where+evil+is+in+a+toaste...

Time Bandits is #8

vs https://www.google.com/#hl=en&output=search&q=the+mo...

First hit.

I realize it is in fashion to make bold claims that somehow Google destroyed its search in a monomaniacal pursuit of social, but a hyperbolic if not patently untrue story. Yes, the user interface has changed and gotten fancier and more cluttered with the introduction of toolbar and sidebar (that's been happening over years, prior to G+), but the actual organic results have not changed much at all except to improve on average, even if you take into account Search Plus Your World (which you can disable)

Shocking, but most people at Google do not work on G+, it is not the sole focus of the company, and the narrative that Google is simply dropping everything else to mindlessly chase Facebook is blogosphere fiction. There are over 30,000 employees and I would be surprised if even 2% of them worked on G+. Teams at Google are typically small and at any given time, people are working on a large number of projects. It's simply not Google's culture to mindlessly focus on a single unproven product to the detriment of others. If anything, Google is frequently criticized for doing too many new things at once, and that's what you get when you have a company run with engineering culture.

Google makes most of their money from Search and Ads. You can bet that they watch data from search quality and marketshare like a hawk, and if social was causing Google search to suck more and lose customers, you can bet they'd turn it off in a heartbeat. It's been said by some analysts that every 1% loss in search marketshare is $1 billion in revenue. Facebook isn't making that much money, and so from a cost-benefit analysis, sacrificing billions in search share revenue to try and gain social-search revenue doesn't sound rational.

It would thus be reasonable to assume, that any changes Google actually makes to core search are a) conservative b) subjected to a battery of scientific tests and c) as low risk as they can make them to their core business.

But the way you read things in the Blogosphere, Search has been radically altered. The evidence just isn't there.

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krelian 834 days ago | link

It's very common these days to take many amazing products for granted. Google search is an amazing tool that suffers a lot from very vocal complaints and not enough praise. The only areas it is lacking in are those that are heavily targeted by spammers.

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mrspeaker 834 days ago | link

!g is the google killer. I switched to DDG, but kept drifting back to see if Google was doing better. I find myself using !g less and less, as I get used to the result format.

At the moment, DDG reminds me of Firefox (or was it WaterSquirrel then?) back-in-the-day. Its something that "feels" better than what is the standard - and it's something that I go on and on about to other nerds, when I'm drunk ;)

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praxeologist 834 days ago | link

I get into using DDG sometimes, then run into a batch of wanting to use !g and just switch the engine in FF and forget to come back until I read some story on HN ;)

It kind of irks me that DDG is still asking if I meant [similar sounding children's book to my business with 3 different letters] when !g stopped doing that months ago. It also has my psycho competitor's defamatory website ranking #8 when this page should have crappy SEO with google.

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phlyingpenguin 834 days ago | link

I hate this (!g) though.

If I want Google results, it's a heck of a lot faster, easier, and natural to just Google it instead of adding some kind of search operator BS to my query. I used DDG for a while (a long time ago, admittedly) and basically had to !g every query I ran in order to get acceptable results. In the end, I gave up because it was just adding typing and thinking time to search.

I suppose one could argue that the interface lacks some of the annoyances of Google, but I feel like quality and speed are the most desirable traits of a search engine (in that order). If we're just using somebody else's results anyway then why should we accept a slowdown?

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glesica 834 days ago | link

I like the !bang operators because I can get results from Google for specialty searches like maps (!m) and images (!i) right from the address bar in Chrome, but still keep DDG as my primary search engine. Google's results are slightly better, but it hasn't been a big deal for me. I still end up finding what I am looking for.

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luser001 834 days ago | link

Yes, the prefix is easier if you search from the firefox search box (ctrl-k).

Also I frequently find nowadays that Goog and DDG provide very very very similar results for most queries for which I dissatisfied enough with DDG to try Goog.

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marshray 834 days ago | link

I don't keep statistics, but my perception is I have to click on one of the 'Try Xxx/Yyy' links maybe 1 in 10 times.

I don't mind since it saves me from having to go into "privacy defensive" mode to interact with the big G.

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pierrebouchet 834 days ago | link

You've convinced me. I'm trying DDG right now!

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kylek 834 days ago | link

> (or was it WaterSquirrel then?)

Phoenix -> FireBird -> FireFox :)

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TylerE 834 days ago | link

He's probably thinking of "IceWeasel" which was a rebranded firefox a linux distro (Fedora maybe?) was shipping due to some sort of copyright/licensing quirk.

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Wilduck 834 days ago | link

Debian actually. It's now GNU IceCat though. The reason they changed the name is because Debian backports some security features to Firefox, and Mozilla denies the use of the Firefox branding to unofficial builds of the software.

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BCM43 834 days ago | link

It's now GNU IceCat though

Are you sure? http://packages.debian.org/search?suite=default&section=...

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Wilduck 834 days ago | link

Yikes, good call. I confused GNU IceCat[1], which was formerly GNU Iceweasel with Debian's rebranding of Firefox, which is still known as Iceweasel[2].

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GNU_IceCat

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mozilla_Corporation_software_re...

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hkolek 834 days ago | link

it's debian: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mozilla_Corporation_software_re...

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