!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.
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.
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.