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DuckDuckGo is blowing up (duckduckgo.com)
1221 points by MatthewPhillips on March 29, 2012 | hide | past | favorite | 203 comments

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

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.:



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.:





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

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

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.

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.

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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?

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!

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.

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.

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.

I am a fan.

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


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

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"?

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

Does Bing not track your searches?

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.

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/

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

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

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.

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

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.

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?

There are sponsored links - like on Google.

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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".


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

Congrats! Go Philly-based startups!!!!

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.

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 =)

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.

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

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.

Hope that made more sense now :)

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

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/

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


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

Definitely feels faster here in Paris, France.

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

Thank you. You're awesome.

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.

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.

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.)

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".

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'.

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.

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.

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)

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?

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.


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.

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

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.

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).

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

> 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.

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...

"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.

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

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

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".


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!".

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/

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.

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.

!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 ;)

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.

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?

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.

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.

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.

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

> (or was it WaterSquirrel then?)

Phoenix -> FireBird -> FireFox :)

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.

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.

It's now GNU IceCat though

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

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...

People care about privacy and not being tracked. I predict Google's arms race with Facebook to profit more from user's data will augment this growth. And/or dampen that arms race.

That's why I search with DuckDuckGo by default (previously Scroogle).

That's why I switched from Google, the !bang feature is something I could not live without now.

With everyone's concern with privacy, I'm surprised Ask Eraser isn't mentioned more frequently (http://sp.ask.com/en/docs/about/askeraser.shtml).

I used to use Ask until they made an announcement that they were leaving the search business and staying in the toolbar sector. I'm surprised they're still up.

I certainly felt some difficulty first in setting Duck Duck Go as my default search engine. Google trains you repeatedly, implicitly, over the years on how to optimise your query for Google. I often still find myself adding "!g" to my DDG query to perform the search on Google, but at least Google isn't my first point of contact any more.

I've gotta say, Gabriel's tenacity is both admirable and inspirational. I remember long ago in its early days I tried it and shrugged it off as just another search engine, destined for failure after a few months of obscurity and being largely unknown.

It's now my default browser, and has been as of about 2 weeks ago. Gabriel has been very keen on picking up where other search site are slacking.

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.

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.

One of National Public Radio's (NPR) shows -- "On the Media", perhaps -- had a several minute segment on Google's privacy changes and someone who decided to "divorce" themselves from Google. They mentioned DDG as the search engine they'd switched to and commented favorably on the experience.

That's at least the second time in recent weeks that I've heard DDG mentioned on national or state public radio.

It might sound... "incidental", but those kinds of exposures really get "the masses" to go and have a look.

EDIT: Here's a reference to the "divorce" segment:


I don't much like DuckDuckGo's results. For example a search for "Minecraft" via DuckDuckGo produces:

#1 minecraft.net (official site) #2 facebook.com/minecraft #3 joystiq.com/game/minecraft (news blog) #4 minecraftportal.com (minecraft blog) #5 minecraft.en.softonic.com (a site distributing a copy of the phased out minecraft trial version) #6 minecraftwiki.net (official Minecraft wiki) #7 kotaku.com/minecraft/ (blog)

The #1 result makes sense and is great, but why are the rest of the top results all blogs (besides the wiki)? It seems to heavily favour blogs. The official Minecraft forum isn't even in the top 20...

I'm not exactly sure what your talking about. The results for Google's minecraft search are pretty crummy too.

#1 minecraft.net (can't tell from the search results if it's even the games real website, since there are ~.com, ~.net and ~.org sites all run by others) #2 minecraftforfree.com (a site distributing the full version for free?!) #3 minecraftwiki #4 wikipedia's article #5 pocket edition on the android app store, not even the actual website and no links to the iOS version? #6-10 youtube videos of people playing or reviewing minecraft #11 3 news links about minecraft #12-13 both link to googlemapsmania articles on minecraft maps.

Oh and a nice link at the bottom about DMCA requested removal of a link (sent by Mojang at least). I imagine due to copyright/IP violations like link #2.

YMMV though due to Google's search personalisation...

The minecraft forum isn't listed until the second link on page 2. I'm not sure if you missed it but the forum is link #10 on the DDG search...

It was definitely ~#20 when I checked, it was below the page (I had to scroll then ctrl + f to make sure I found it) but now I can't even find it any more, the only thing I can find is "minecraftnews.net" which is around #30 and is a rip off of our site.

Here is a screenshot of the results I see: http://i.imgur.com/qIc1J.png

I've visited google from a VM that has never used google before and I see:

#1 minecraft.net #2 minecraftwiki.net #3 wikipedia.org/wiki/minecraft #4 Minecraft fan made trailer (video with ~8m views) #5 minecraft.org (fansite) #6 minecraftforum.net #7 Minecraft android app (official version of the game for android) #8 Minecraft on Facebook #9 IGN Minecraft review #10 Minecraft.com (a site capitalising on the domain but offering no Minecraft content)

Google is certainly not perfect but they are a mile better than DuckDuckGo, which does not even include the official Minecraft forum which is linked from the wiki, from the official Minecraft site, from almost every Minecraft Youtube video...

Wait I just did more "investigation", DuckDuckGo cares about capitalisation. What the hell? "Minecraft" and "minecraft" have different results and even the pages differ. Sometimes I can find minecraftforum.net listed for "Minecraft" (but not minecraft) and sometimes it just doesn't show at all. That's on typing in my search and refreshing; seconds apart and the results change.

I too find that for many 'normal' (as in: mainstream) search queries, Google is much better. Certainly after the first one or two results. For coding, DuckDuckGo gives better results.

So I use duckduckgo for coding or factual matters (or wolframalpha occasionally), and Google for searching things like Minecraft or a forum or so.

I try to use DDG as much as possible though for the privacy issue. Since I started to use it (because it was the default search engine in Linux Mint and I wanted to give it a go), my average Google searches per day dropped from hundreds to a couple dozen. I imagine DuckDuckGo ones went a lot up, but they don't track that!

I use duckduckgo as my default search engine now. If i need some more info i just use g!. Really like the bang syntax!

And its doesnt track all my stuff, and this stupid google+ (failure) is not integrated. I just want to search stuff. Google did it right in the past, now duck duck go is my uberlord.

That's a fantastic looking curve, but keep in mind the absolute numbers shown. They are at 1.6 million direct queries per day. Still a ways to go to be truly competitive (3 billion per day for Google). Still, if they keep up with current growth rates, they could do some real damage.

Just one at a time is all it takes. :) Replace starfish with searches..and bend your imagination a bit.

"A man was walking along a deserted beach at sunset. As he walked he could see a young boy in the distance, as he drew nearer he noticed that the boy kept bending down, picking something up and throwing it into the water. Time and again he kept hurling things into the ocean.

As the man approached even closer, he was able to see that the boy was picking up starfish that had been washed up on the beach and, one at a time he was throwing them back into the water.

The man asked the boy what he was doing, the boy replied,"I am throwing these washed up starfish back into the ocean, or else they will die through lack of oxygen. "But", said the man, "You can't possibly save them all, there are thousands on this beach, and this must be happening on hundreds of beaches along the coast. You can't possibly make a difference." The boy looked down, frowning for a moment; then bent down to pick up another starfish, smiling as he threw it back into the sea. He replied,

"I made a huge difference to that one!""

I swapped to DDG on all of my browsers about a month ago and I've been really pleased. Like others, I find myself occasionally using !g, particularly for programming queries. Things like !so, !mdn and !msdn actually help out a lot in some of these cases, which makes me think that as I learn the bangs I'll rely on Google less and less.

pg's analysis was spot on, then [1]. I recently realized DuckDuckGo would be a hit when a hacker friend who does not read HN started using DDG as his primary search engine.

To me, this means it is out there. I switched too, at least for a while, and now I use both google and DDG, constantly having the impression that DDG's results are getting better and better.

[1] http://paulgraham.com/ambitious.html

I remember specifically thinking of DDG when PG mentioned search engines in that keynote. I've used DDG since 2010 and I would never switch back.

Although I don't use DDG, I too thought of them specifically when PG mentioned it.

Let's see if PG turns out to be right on this one.

DDG used to be pushed heavily on reddit. Not in a bad way.

That's consistent with our Google Analytics. Visits from DDG are up to 58 last week, up from 15 the first week in January with a steady climb. There was a dip last week over week for some reason.

Compared to Google's 38K visits for last week, they have a long way to go to make a dent. We perform better in DDG results, as well.

I've been using DuckDuckGo more and more lately since google added a redirect[1] for any link clicked in their search results a couple months ago.

I'm in China and most links I click on google don't load. Perhaps because China is messing with DNS queries to google.com and trying to limit the amount of data they collect on their citizens.

[1] The google link for duckduckgo search result first hits this link, and this is where the pageload errors occur: http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&#...

I've been using DDG for quite a few months now and in general it works well. However I still find myself adding that "!g" at times when they find no results, and seeing what I was looking for at Google. I am also a bit disappointed with the "I'm feeling ducky"-results which are rarely what a person is likely to be looking for as soon as you get more complex than one word.

But that's the negative parts, and otherwise the positive outweighs those by far. I love the bang-syntax and I found myself using their information-box directly on the search page very often, mostly for converting currency.

I think better results will come with time and increasing usage, and I wish them good luck in the future.

if i get that right, people are doing a lot more API calls than direct searches... Which begs the questions of (i) who they are, (ii) what they're doing, and (iii) how this can be monetized?

The graph is for direct searches though. You can see API calls stable at around 9M for quite a while, and direct searches have sky-rocketed.

You're right that there are a lot more API calls still (~x6). But the gap is closing quickly.

Fastestfox, Cyberspace and others use our API: http://duckduckgo.com/api.html

Would love to hear ideas on (iii).

Maybe these numbers include search requests from browser-search fields and similar. Otherwise I would be very interested in those sources, too.

I just wish DDG could implement autocomplete/search suggestions. It's probably silly, but I've become as accustomed to typing a few letters into Google and it knowing exactly what I'm looking for as I have to tab complete in a unix terminal.

I've also really become accustomed to "instant" search. And I'll be the first to admit I thought was a total gimmick when it was announced.

Edit: After reading what I wrote, I realized it came off as if I didn't like DDG or didn't use it. Neither of those are true. I really like DDG and use it fairly often.

Nice. If nothing else this proves that there is unmet demand in search.

It was mentioned before, but I think it's more a kind of "different" and unpersonalized search. Like proposed by Paul Graham: http://paulgraham.com/ambitious.html

I agree. My point is simply that this is strong evidence that Google's 'one size fits all' approach leaves room for other entrants.

It's great to hear that DDG is doing well. The problem is that I will never switch over to it due to its shortcomings compared to Google and even Bing. I tried to give it a go for a day or so, but quickly realized the results being returned were not good enough.

1) It's not as accurate as Google. Sometimes DDG might return a better result (such as https://duckduckgo.com/?q=alternative+to+picasa), but 9/10 times Google is much more accurate.

2) DDG is playing catchup to a search engine that has hundreds of employees and a 10+ year head start. The types of queries DDG is trying to solve now were likely solved years ago and have been finely tuned numerous times.

3) I think this good video http://insidesearch.blogspot.com/2012/03/video-search-qualit... about sums up the type of problems they are solving now and how advanced their platform is. Google is tweaking an edge-case scenario that is only .1% of their traffic. That is more traffic than all of DDG.

4) If DDG is all about respecting privacy and not tracking users, then use Google or Bing in incognito mode. Problem solved.

I'm not trying to be negative, but all signs point to a losing battle.

As a counterexample for number one, I've found DDG to be as good or better than Google on almost everything. The only place Google really beats it is in mailing list archives. DDG doesn't seem to crawl sites like gmane.

Numbers two and three don't make any sense to me as reasons not to use DDG. Using those criteria nobody would have switched to Google because they were just some college guys, while AltaVista and Yahoo have a big head start and huge departments working on search...

Number four is simply too inconvenient. I could go through the trouble of switching to incognito mode every time I needed to search, or I could just use DDG.

The difference now is that Google is constantly trying to improve now more than ever, whereas before the search engines thought it was "good enough". AltaVista and Yahoo were stuck in the technology of the day. The guys at Google had a crazy idea to implement "pagerank" and turn everything upside down.

I switched to Google because it was more accurate, and for no reason other than that. That's my #1 priority.

Fast forward to today and DDG is not trying to solve an accuracy or crawling problem. I'm not really sure what problem they are trying to solve other than to be an alternative search. There is nothing wrong with that, but I just don't think it fits me.

They are trying to solve the same problems, just coming at it from different angles.

Google has given up on providing accurate search results to the anonymous user. They now believe that customization is the way forward (Global Warming results depending on your political leaning, etc.).

One aspect where Google's size is really killing it: they should be manipulating results manually. For example, a JavaScript search should return MDN in the top 5 results and W3Schools not at all. That doesn't happen, I believe because Google can't manually do stuff like this because of the fact that they compete in many different markets. That's the advantage of only being a search engine; a search engine's job is to be biased.

I use DDG a lot.

The reality is, it's not as tuned a search engine as Google is. However, I find it to be a more serendipitous search engine. It's better in breadth than G, IMO. That is to say, the top hit on Google is more precise if I want a specific thing, but the breadth of results on DDG is much more useful than Google in general.

As a matter of fact, it reminds me of the '90s, where a search could teach you more than just the one thing you were looking for.

I like it... most of the time. :-)

Great to see DDG gaining traction.

However, I switched my Chrome search to DDG last year and the one thing that I realised I couldn't live without was maps.

I didn't realise how often I must search for an address and to have location appear in search makes life so much easier.

If you guys integrated with Openstreetmap, I'd switch back in an instant!

I'm a heavy Google Maps user as well.

OSM integration would be nice, but I've found that DDG still has slightly inferior results to Google.

I do like the approach to privacy and occasionaly use it :)

Last week I was searching for a: Sabian 18" HHX Chinese cymbal. I was considering buying one for my kit and wanted to see some reviews, video samples, prices etc.

DuckDuckGo: The top there results were American Ebay search results (I live in Canada), a drum shop in Memphis (15 hour drive), and various other online stores (discountdrumequipment.info).

Google: The first page of results had links to the official Sabian product pages, Youtube videos of people playing it, and the most impressive thing was a 3 day old Kijiji ad (again, I live in Canada) with the exact cymbal I wanted for a good price in a city just 45 minutes from me.

I responded to the ad, drove the 45 minutes, and purchased it. DuckDuckGo's stance on user privacy is admirable, but Google still gets my vote... it's accuracy still impresses me.

I recently switched to using ddg for all of my searches.

So far, I have been happy. I normally find what I am looking for within the first few results, and I find myself using !g less frequently.

ddg certainly feels faster and less irritating than google. I have been very satisfied.

Hi, I've only been using DuckDuckGo lately and I love it. Search quality is so impressive and the respect for privacy is very welcome. I hope it is able to maintain this independent feel and not sell out like others did.

Awesome. I've heard of duckduckgo from a coworker and use it regularly.

I'm creating an art site and have a search feature. I made sure to include duckduckgo along with google, and bing as search providers. It only makes sense, right?

The only thing that's missing from DDG taking over the world is good i18n. Really, it's the only thing that ever made it impossible for me to recommend it. A lot of especially older people outside the US use Google mainly because they don't or can't care for the rest of the world and simply don't have the required English skills.

This isn't just about the interface language and search results, but also about !bangs. To be useable !ebay has to use the the already available region setting.

Other than that I have been an advocate from the early days, because DDG is what the world needs.

I don't really understand why so many people think that the results on DDG are worse than Google. Maybe I just don't search for things that other people do, or I search differently, but for me, I usually prefer the DDG results. Most of it has to do with the zero click info and the disambiguation. Especially the disambiguation. I get better results because most things I search for could be disambiguated, and I take full advantage of that to quickly give me just the results related to what I'm looking for.

Incidentally, I switched my default search to ddg 2 days ago. Use !g a lot but also ddg native frequently. Starting to get a feel for what type of search will benefit more from DDGs extras.

Related discussion on the previous thread here, about a month ago: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3661345

It's interesting to see how many requests are coming from the API, offhand I can't think of any uses that I've come into contact with. Does anyone know who is using the API?

Fastestfox, Cyberspace and others use our API: http://duckduckgo.com/api.html

It's very exciting to see usage of DDG increasing and the service getting more and more recognition. I've been using DDG for almost two years now and love the service. The privacy is what drew me in, but the goodies are what made me a user for life. It's the default for my browser and I use the iPhone and iPad apps regularly. Keep up the good work DDG! I'd be happy to lend my sysadmin skills to help :)

I've been using blekko.com and found that I prefer it to ddg. Like others have, I too go back to Google for programming related searches at times.

I tried to switch to DDG recently; after a couple of weeks using it as my default search engine in Chrome, I had to switch back to Google.

Speed was a pretty big factor, but more than that, the search results just didn't compare. Still, I'm rooting for them, and hope that they're able to close the gap, both in speed and results. I love their style, and all of the site-specific search shortcuts.

Did you know Duck.com redirects to Google.com? That's pretty smart of Google. In other thoughts, congratulations on the exploding growth!

I just want to say I use duckduckgo, but the reason is because I find Google's recent policies to be unsupportable and I no longer want to use them. So far duckduckgo has been inferior in just about every way to google, most notably search speed and search quality. Also I have seen some extremely dubious scammy ads in ddg, which make me uncomfortable for sure.

You are #1 for programming related queries. I am curious about seeing you build up the similar precision/recall for other areas.

The thing that worries me about DDG is their reliance on others' search engines.

If there was ever a true defection from one of the big guys' services to DDG (i.e., if DDG was actually blowing up), it seems to me they'd just replicate many of DDG's features for their userbase and DDG would wither, or even just pull DDG's access to their search engines.

Nice curve.

March 1st caused me to go from DDG dabbler to browser default.

Still use !g, but I find that I recommend DDG more often than I use !g.

Have been using DDG for the last 2 months but have to admit I'm feeling withdrawal symptoms, mainly due to speed. I hope that the increase in traffic is mainly responsible for things being a bit slow - the sluggishness (NOT results) is the primary thing making me yearn for Google at the moment.

Pretty damn good. I love how the search engine itself helps you find a better context to frame your search into. It's like having a conversation with the website (instead of it assuming I want something because I searched for it before and it's "most likely" I was looking for this)

Does anyone know how much of that comes from Linux Mint?

I dabbled with DDG a few times, but only when I changed to Mint did I start using it frequently. I've since wondered how much of a proportion of the traffic of DDG is because it's now the default search engine for Firefox in Mint.

I've been using this search engine for a week and I really like it. The only thing I've noticed is that Google has conditioned me to never look at the top section because that's where sponsored ad's are so I have to force myself to click on the top link.

Brainwashed by GOOG :)

I love DuckDuckGo. My only real complaint is when their search falls back on Google (for maps, and things like that). It would be great if DDG were able to start providing their own alternative image/map searches. I would probably switch to them fulltime.

As with most new search startups, people will give it a chance. Hence the increase in traffic. I tried it a couple of times but, as most people do, I then checked Google just to make sure I'd really covered what is considered the full spectrum of search.

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

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

Give me a quick (or configurable, or special URL) that includes a "search on Google Scholar" link and I will switch from Google. Ever since Google's visual refresh that removed the menu item for search on google scholar, I've lost one of my timesavers.

For everyone finding DDG to slow, my last recommendation on this one.. startpage.com :)


(just to make people aware of alternatives, before returning to google/bing/etc)

I feel part of it's sudden huge growth has to do with udacity search engine course.

Hooray I like DDG and switched awhile ago making it my default search. Congrats.

I've tried hacking the Safari Binary using the online instructions to make DDG my default search (GLIMS sucks), but I can't get it working at all. I can't find the lines that I'm meant to be replacing.

Has anyone else had any luck?

Wed 28-Mar-2012 1,518,581 direct 9,580,029 api 225,161 bot

Am I reading this right? DDG does ~6 times as much traffic in API requests compared to search requests?

That makes a pretty significant difference to the monetisation strategy!

Note though that the growth of direct requests is much faster than the growth of API requests.

That's awesome! Just goes to show that search is still an area for growth.

Yes, I've noticed an increase in speed over the last couple of days.

Keep up the good work!

I really wish I could use DDG on iOS then I could fully replace google.

as a happy DDG user I have to say congrats and I absolutely love the zero click box, a feature that often provides superior search quality than Google.

I love using DDG through the Tor network. http://3g2upl4pq6kufc4m.onion

I started to use it about a couple of weeks ago

Do they publish revenue? I wonder what the infrastructure costs are and how they scale in comparison to the number of request.

I think that most of their results come from Bing if I remember correctly. So the scaling doesn't have to be as heavy as it might seem. But I may be wrong.

Careful with the headline, I'm sure it caused some terrorist alert bells to ring in som US three-letter agency. :)

My kids like the cute picture of the duck.

Nice to see such an important and modern project written in Perl, which people around here shit on all the time.

Nice! You guys deserve it

It would be nice to see those graphs with a logarithmic y-axis.

Thanks for this! I was finally fed up with goCIAoglNSAe.cFBIom

Tip: Use the short URL ddg.gg for less typing.

Chrome autocomplete support would be awesome.

congrats. i stopped using google after their last policy change. DDG mostly fits the bill, apart from some special cases.

Glad to hear. Been using it more of late.

So how is DuckDuckGo going to make money?

It's already monetizing via ads specifically, sponsored links which are highlighted in Yellow and are syndicated through Microsoft adCenter. They also take affiliate commission on sites like Amazon and eBay.

They have ads that are relevant to the search terms you just used.

Long live the Hockey Stick!

hurry up and get some servers in India.


I like the concept of DDG but unfortunately the results just aren't there yet...

Look at the search results for "Google Verbatim Mode" on DDG vs Google.

On Google, all results are actually about the "Verbatim" search mode on Google. We even get results like "How to set Verbatim mode as default on Google Chrome" with actual instructions.

On DDG, we instead get a really crappy blog article as the first result, and some unrelated junk about Google Earth DirectX and Windows 8. There's one result that asks the question most people searching for that query would want answered, "I would like to be able to use verbatim mode as standard". However... it's a link to a newsgroup posting with no answers, unlike the Google results which actually provided links to blog postings with the answer.

So, I'm going to use Verbatim mode on Google for now, now that I know how to activate it by default... Let me know if you guys work these issues out, I'd love to use DDG, but it's just not returning valuable results reliably yet.

Treading carefully here ... I love DDG and find it yields far more useful results than anything else.

Besides, I like not getting tracked all the time and I can switch off ads without needing any extensions. That in my view is a very civilised set of options and the rest of the Internet should follow by example.

I'm using DuckDuckGo since two days now as default everything (since I've read this thread) and my surprise is that I've not switch back to google yet. Hey that's awesome since I'm not specially an early adopter statistically. Btw, I particularly like the insight box.

Google has been annoying me lately. I'm willing to give this a shot. Good luck DDG. Resetting Chrome default search engine now.

I <3 DDG.

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