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Introducing DuckDuckHack (gabrielweinberg.com)
417 points by bjplink on May 1, 2012 | hide | past | favorite | 72 comments

This is absolutely fantastic.

I remember suggesting ages ago that Intel's ark.intel.com should be integrated, so if you searched for Q6600 or 2600k or i7 980 it would show you details of the processor.

I might have a shot at integrating that. Does anyone know about the legality of doing so? I'm sure Intel wouldn't care, but showing the info in a zero click box would seem to be different than merely scraping the pages in order to return search results.

Showing extracts in search results is widely considered to be fair use: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Field_v._Google

perhaps bit OT, but read this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Field_v._Google#Ruling

(1) Operator did not directly infringe on author's copyrighted works;

(5) Search engine fell within protection of safe harbor provision of Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

wouldnt the same rules applies IF the government comes after The Pirate Bay? Or even the guy who is now being extradited to US for his linking website?

1. The Pirate Bay's support of piracy is quite "volitional", to use the ruling's terminology. The Pirate Bay goes to great lengths to maintain its ability to enable piracy. Google will gladly exclude your entire site if you ask them to.

2. The purpose and character of Google's summaries and cached pages is quite different from The Pirate Bay's links. (In particular, Google has no intention of totally replacing the original site with an unauthorized copy, and its content is not generally useful as such.)

3. The Pirate Bay is not covered by the DMCA's safe harbor provisions (as, again, it isn't open to the idea of taking down content at the request of copyright holders).

If the Pirate Bay were somehow construed as being in US jurisdiction, they would run into this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MGM_Studios,_Inc._v._Grokster,_...

I actually want to do something similar, and integrate a search of ARM's website into DDG for quick reference to specific ARM assembly opcodes.

This seems to me to be a great example of hour DDG can gain an edge on Google. I don't think you'll ever see Google offering something like this; they're too big. A smaller option like DDG has more room to grow, and can take advantage of the crowd like this in ways that Google can't.

Google offered something very similar to this a few years ago: http://googlesystem.blogspot.com/2007/10/google-search-add-o...

Sadly it seems to no longer be supported.

Your link also mentions that Google has a patent on this (patent no. 20070239716). Interesting.

(That's a publication number, not a patent number. Notice that it starts with a year. Issued patent numbers are sequential.)

Oops, you're right. The patent number is 7593939.

Thanks for the link! I had no idea this ever existed.

For some context on how this has been tried before:

* http://yubnub.org/ - one of the first if not first to create a community around web commands. Primitive string substitution

* http://queri.ac (disclaimer: I maintained it for awhile) - a small community of web commands. Supported options, bookmarklets and more. Browser-independent.

* ubiquity, https://wiki.mozilla.org/Labs/Ubiquity, - improved on web commands by having them written in javascript and had an awesome API for combining commands and rendering command output. However, it was firefox-specific.

The main innovation I see with duckduckhack is that they're using github to foster contribution.

And that it directly adds to an already successful search engine.

This is begging to be renamed "HackHackGo." Has such a nice ring to it!

Haha, you'll notice hackhackgo.com redirects to the same place :). We had a large internal debate about the name and it came down to these two, with hacksear.ch in third.

Good choice, in the end. The brand is more "DuckDuck", not "Go".

But is the name of their add-on toolset really key to their brand image?

+1 "DuckDuckHack"

If it hacks like a duck...

You compared this to Firefox Add-ons. Does that mean that these won't be integrated into DDG natively? Will that only be at your discretion?

No, they will be native.

Here are a few ideas that would be cool.

# hackernews / hn

"hn url" - See if a URL has been posted to HN. If so show the title and link to post + comments

"hn keywords" - Show HN search results with linked title and link to comments

hn could be an alias to hackernews.

# reddit

Reddit's native search sucks in every way possible. Add a reddit keyword with similar functionality.

Good ideas, we are collecting all of them here: http://ideas.duckduckhack.com/

This is like Google Labs turned inside out. Innovative stuff. I love it. More power to DDG!

Google had something like this back in 2007.

Matt Cutts: "An easy way to add new features to Google" http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/adding-new-features-to-google/

Do you guys already support Mycroft plugins? Granted you can't use them to play tetris in the results list, but they're easier to make (you only need to know how to edit XML) and there are already thousands on http://mycroft.mozdev.org. You just need to add some heuristics to scrape the results out.

Actually, one could make a pretty good search engine that was just a frontend for mycroft that was able to extract results and figure out which plugins to use for which queries.

Not directly -- but will definately look into it.

Slightly off topic, but can anyone elaborate on the legal handling of displaying the xkcd comics? As they are fetched directly from images.xkcd.com, and do not contain a "discussion", would it still be considered Fair Use, or have they made an agreement with Randall Munroe?

Their usage is noncommercial (no fee) and links through, so it satisfies CC BY-NC 2.5.

See http://xkcd.com/license.html

This is more about duckduckgo than duckduckhack, but Im starting to love this search engine. Found out about the "s:d" command that sorts all the hits in descending order.. combined with the arrow keys and the "h" key to get back to the search box, you can search a multitude of search terms reaally fast and efficiently.

And no spying on its users! Google, you can go f-ck yourself from now on.

I love this engine. Thanks so much for creating it!

Thanks -- for the record, s:d is an internal plugin that currently calls Blekko.

VerticalSet is offering similar functionality. DuckDuckGo is starting to go in the same direction.


Although aim is same to make search engine a platform, technologically it is rather different. Would love to hear feedback on this.

I actually quite like VerticalSet as the display is very clean. The thing that is most interesting about is is the installable extensions. Assuming its still around in a few years like DDG it may be worth spending some time to create some of them.

Thanks for compliments, I don't see stopping development any time soon.

I couldn't figure it out from the docs, do the plugins get approved by DuckDuckGo? Or does the user have to install them for their own account? I'm a bit confused at how you would mediate between different plugins trying to provide an answer for the same query, etc.

The plugins get approved by DuckDuckGo, and generally we work with people to make them good or round them out ourselves. In the future there may be a way to install them in addition (for say, the ones we aren't using for the whole site).

We have a bit of an answer for conflicts on this in the FAQ: http://duckduckhack.com/#faq

"What if there are plugin conflicts? The ultimate arbiter is the user, and that's the perspective we take, i.e. what is best for the user experience? That said, often times it makes sense to combine ideas into one, better plugin."

It'd be great to let users download plugins. There might be small communities that do regular searches where certain instant answer hacks might not make sense to the vast majority of users.

You can download plugins from github, but note that they are under GPL as far as I know. EDIT: Nope, perl5 license.

DDG is getting better all the time. These days, I use it almost exclusively. I love the !bang syntax.

i use it by default too (i guess it's largely cosmetic, but since something now displays quickly it doesn't feel so slow, even though the results still lag a little), but for non-trivial searches i regularly use !google because it simply returns better results. i don't see how they can fix that (they delegate to bing?) but i wish they could. it's just depressing how much better google results can be when the answer "isn't obvious".

sorry, i guess this reads really negative. it's not my intent - as i said i use it. i just wish it could be better.

The !bang syntax is for pass-through search (http://duckduckgo.com/bang.html). So, why even bother going to DDG and not simply using address bar search shortcuts?

Why would I do 'ddg !g "my" "search" "terms"' as opposed to 'g "my" "search" "terms"'??

Or is this using ddg as start page for your browser, or ...

Just curious.

For me, there are a couple of benefits of having the functionality built into my search engine rather than my browser.

First, all I have to do is set up DDG as the default search engine in my browser, and then I get tons of search shortcuts working without any more effort on my part. I don't have to worry about syncing between different computers, browsers (I use Chrome and Firefox at different times), and operating systems.

Second, there are many more shortcuts than I'd ever think to maintain myself, and somebody else has already put the work into defining them. I can do !{relatively popular site} and even if I'm guessing, it almost always works. (In fact, I can't remember the last time it didn't.)

So, if there was an addon that bundled all these !bang pass throughs as search keywords and worked cross browser would you still use ddg for this?

I'm going to guess "yes" but perhaps for others it would be no?

I'm not saying this just to be argumentative (honest!). Just that when I tried DDG as my search provider before (which was a while back now) I found that !bang looked like a great idea but just made searches slower for me. But then I've got quite a few years of established search keywords.

The bangs are especially good for dodging the really heavy homepages of some sites. For example, !bgg.

samdk has answered for me.

What advantage do bangs have over Chrome's ability to detect and add search engines to the Omnibox?

They exist for sites you've never been to before, you don't have to do anything to a fresh browser install to make them work, they are browser-indepenent (I don't use or like chrome personally), and you can use them on any computer at any time. I know they are always helpful for me when using public computers.

I wholeheartedly agree. However, I think DDG is even better on the smartphone.

I have it set there as my default search engine, and within the browser and without having to type too much (and frankly, the less I have to type on it the better) I get access to a vast amount of sites.

Since I'm using Chromium, I could probably do without the !bang-syntax on the desktop, but being able to consistantly use the same syntax on both mobile and desktop is lovely and a definitive advantage for me.

That, and the no-tracking-policy is a big bonus as well, I suppose.

Reminds me of Yahoo's Search Monkey (RIP). DDG seems like a much better home for this (awesome) idea.


At least someone is innovating in search.

Nice idea.

I have but one problem, and it's with the site (DuckDuckHack) itself.

Could the author just make the tutorial section scrollable with the rest of the page? The current functionality is quite awkward. It's also ignorant of (most of) the keyboard (home, end, page up, page down, etc.), which is the quickest way to traverse a page.

Thanks -- the site looks for the scrollwheel and the down arrow, both of which will open the tutorial after which page down et al. should work as expected. Are you seeing different behavior or just wanted to hit page down initially?

I'm referring specifically to the state before the pane is activated. It feels awkward to have so few options to activate it. The transition/animation also toys a bit with scrolling up/down.

Switching my default search in 3..2..1..

Yay! I wanted to contribute to duckduckgo a while ago, but found it quite daunting, this is perfect!

Crowd sourcing better search results through content plugins. Genius - great job ddg/h guys!

I have seen duckduckgo popping up in more places over the past few months. I don't know much about them but they're obviously doing something right. This just pushed me over the top in setting them as my default search engine.

I started using DuckDuckGo for its position on privacy, but that is just one reason of many to use it now.

I have more than a few ideas for hacks, after reading the very nice tutorial. Look forward to playing with it.

In 10 years, Google could be in serious trouble on the search front. Yes it will take that long. Yes they could actually lose. Rock 'em Gabriel.

I saw this on GitHub a few days ago (there's, umm, not a lot else in the Perl section) and have been thinking about things to add.

Looks good, guys!

Can't wait to spend a weekend creating a plugin!

Awesome! Wish I could upvote this twice.

How does ranking between plugins work? Is the order arbitrated in advance?

Plugins should be narrow enough to only ever trigger one of them

Nice! Will this be integrated with the zero-click info API at http://api.duckduckgo.com/ ?

The goodies/fathead plugins should auto-flow through. Spice/longtail are a bit more complicated but would love to get them in at some point.

OT: nice signin implementation there!

This is so cool...

It's really cool that duckduckgo want to go this way. I think both, the creator of ddg and the users will profit of the ideas, which will come up in DuckDuckHack. The users know what they want, so it's the right choice to let them be part of it ;)

I wonder how google fights on every frontier, and apple being smart always avoid fights.

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