I was discussing this with a colleague recently and I figured I'd mention it on HN the next time DuckDuckGo came up.
I feel somewhat silly saying this, but DuckDuckGo is not that great of a name. I love the engine, and have gotten some great results from the few times I have used it, but I really, really wish it were not named DuckDuckGo. It seems tacky to me and it's hard to say. There's a support article that encourages users to "duck it". No thanks. I swear I would become a regular user of this product if it were named something more professional.
I know tech products often have whimsical names, and it's usually positive or at least tolerable, but something about "DuckDuckGo" rubs me the wrong way.
I have to agree. I know it's stupid, I know it's childish, I know that as a techie I really should know better than to judge a search engine by its name.
But every single time the topic of DuckDuckGo comes up, I find myself thinking that it's a bad name. And I'm not the only one - every time this topic comes up, at least one other person mentions the name thing.
I'm not saying this to be mean, and I'm definitely not saying this because I think I'm "right". I'm only saying this because I truly believe that changing DuckDuckGo's name would make it more popular, and it deserves to be popular.
I think you're saying two things, so I'll address each.
1. "Google" and "Yahoo!" seemed funny in 1994, but we're used to them.
It's possible. This is what most people answer about DDG. I think this is wrong. Google and Yahoo!, while funny names, sound "cool". DuckDuckGo doesn't. My memory isn't great, so I can't be sure I'm right about this, but I'm pretty sure that the first time I heard "Google" or "Yahoo!", I had a much better reaction than the first (and every) time I hear "DuckDuckGo".
I also think it's not smart to cling to the "people will get used to it, Google was the same" defense. If it's true, sure. I think it's not, and it's just misleading and true-sounding enough that DuckDuckGo keeps going.
2. The domain name itself is a problem (long, annoying to type, etc.), and once they get ddg it will be better.
I agree on this point, although I do think the name is still an important point, not just for the domain. It's a brand.
I'd like to reiterate that I'm not saying this things to be a critic, or just to be mean. I really value the work of DuckDuckGo, I think it's great that there's good competition to Google, and I'm a fan of Gabriel Weinberg. I'm only saying this because it's an issue that keeps coming up, and I really think it has a bad effect on DuckDuckGo.
I remember reading about it on TNW that it came from an acquisition. While most of the domain names Google owns don't redirect to google.com, this one is an exception (you'd wonder how it relates to search in any way). Google wants some free traffic from its little enemy?
Actually, the use case is more for someone like me - I remember that I want to try DDG once in a while, so I decide to visit it, and then I can't remember the shortcut and am annoyed that I have to type in the whole name.
Obviously serious users of DDG don't have any problem with it.
I find Googles' invasion of privacy a big turn off. I have long since stopped using Facebook for exactly this reason. I am not quite at the point with Google where I say I don't trust them, unlike Facebook. I regularly check out DuckDuckGo but its search results are not quite there yet for me, in comparison to Google. At this stage the gap is narrowing, both as a result of my increasing concerns over the invasion of privacy from Google and the increasing quality of DuckDuckGo.
It is only a matter of time before I say goodbye to Google forever....
I tried DDG for little more than a week about a year a go and it made me realize how much I use the search suggestion feature in Chrome.
The lack of that feature using DDG really annoyed me. Often I don't know the exact spelling of the thing I'm looking for or the best way to phrase my question (English being my third language), and the suggestions I get in chrome just by typing a few letters in the address bar is really great. And often times I'm just looking for how to spell a word and with the suggestions I don't even have to leave the page I'm on.
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 three results were American Ebay search results (I live in Canada), a drum shop in Memphis (15 hour drive), and various other online stores like discountdrumequipment.info... looks legit.
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 (still popular 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 is going to be my primary search engine for a very long time with results like that... it's accuracy still impresses me.
One of my favorite things about DDG is the bang, and my absolute favorite bang (when I use one) is !g. Because the URL for the resulting page is just the search, without all the cruft.
direct via google:
Whenever I want to send a google search to someone, I do it via DDG. Although I usually send DDG searches, to help promote DDG.
The writer appears to be the wrong audience of !bang. As a physics student, I find !w tremendously helpful. Image searching is also much faster since it all can be done in the search bar rather than requiring the mouse. !wa for wolfram alpha is again great. It's far better for sites in which there is no better alternative than using their search bar, rather than the type of usage the article seemed to employ.
In fact, at this point, the number of times I have to manually type in a URL (when using my own computer) is probably fewer than 10 per day. I've never understood why people make such a big deal about !bang when instead you can search the sites directly with a keyword search, plus you're not limited to those DDG supports.
You can manage your search engines in Chrome to get the same !bang effect. Slightly better in my opinion, because you don't have to type the awkward '!' and you don't have to go to a website just to search another website.
The best thing is you can even configure Chrome to do the same thing for local files. My Racket repository is always in ~/code/racket. The "rkg" keyword (for racket-git) is set to file:///home/andy/code/racket/doc/search/index.html?q=%s, which allows me to easily search all of the latest racket Git docs in Chrome in just three letters + Tab.
Thats only because the search for wikipedia is good; but for example !python isn't as great. It is nice for convenience but relying on site's internal search is kind of a cop out, albeit smart for their purposes.
True, but I think DDG is smart to pursue the bigger market of "people who want to find stuff on wikipedia, youtube, and google image search" and wait for DuckDuckHack to come up with a plugin that does skillful python searches.
I don't see that they realistically have an alternative.
DuckDuckGo won't ever be able to compete with Google as a general search engine. Google already pretty much solved that problem, and even if they haven't they have a huge head start and a much bigger bankroll. If DuckDuckGo is going to succeed on it's search principles it's going to be as a curated search engine. That's a game where they can still compete with Google.
I completely agree with you about the lack of uniformity in search results. Curation is hard. It requires that a good source exist, that the curators are aware of it, and that it's amenable to being added to your system (technically and legally). Only one of these is under the direct control of the curators.
The reason the Python search sucks in DuckDuckGo the people running the curated Python search have a crappy search engine. Obviously either a better choice doesn't exist (probable), the DuckDuckGo curators don't know about it (very likely), or the better source isn't technically or legally accessible to the DDG curators (unlikely but possible).
Unlike the problems of a crawling and building general search index (where even to enter the market you need to have a massive infrastructure investment), these smaller problems of curation are attackable by a smaller team with limited resources. To improve the search results for !python they won't need to re-engineer their entire crawl/index infrastructure, they will simply need to pick a better third-party source once they are aware of it existing.
But look at a query like "!hoogle (a->b) -> [a] -> [b]". That's a search on the type of a function, and I'd have to go to hoogle first, then search it from there. This adds value greater than the drawback of not using !python, or hitting the back button and deleting the ! when I forget
I think the bubble trend is dangerous. For a while, I was comfortable with Google knowing so much about me. But since they're using that data to decide what I need to know, I decided that it was time to ween myself off their services, including Business Gmail.
What I find interesting, if not sad (sorry), is that it was clear, obvious, simple, like a punch the face that Google would use the data.
Yet you and billion others decided to be comfortable with it. Today the trend is clearly changing and privacy starts to become important. People not getting/losing jobs over it and other such problems certainly don't help.
But still. Faith in humanity certainly doesn't fare very well these days ;-)
You're right. They were bound to use that data. I just assumed that it was for serving up more targeted averts. I'm not against making money. I just don't want to see what happened with newspaper and TV happen to the internet.
I use google mostly for "How to do x in y framework", and I can get a good response 75% of the time, and that goes up to about 85% with some better phrasing. I tried ddg for a week, but I used g! so much that I felt a bit silly.
to be fair, i think HN is pretty much the only place that the comparison is being made, and most of the support comes from DDG's support for 'hackers' and because a lot of people here really don't like google and microsoft.
I almost never bother with sites' internal searches, as google's "site:" feature almost invariably works better, so I wouldn't be inclined to use DDG's site-search bang-lines myself. YMMV, I guess it depends on how good the site in question's internal search functionality is.
Heh, I always use Google instead of most site's internal search engines. Have you ever tried using MSDN search before? Even with the advanced filter options, the results are awful, awful, awful compared to what Google pulls up.
A pretty balanced review of the two search engines. I have had DuckDuckGo as my main search engine for almost a year now. I still find myself using the google bang (g!) for a significant percentage of searches. However, I don't find typing the extra 3 characters in my search query to be enough of a chore to warrant switching back to Google as default engine. From experience, I usually have a strong premonition when a particular query will be more appropriate for Google to handle, so I don't waste time hitting DuckDuckGo first.
I tried using ddg as my default search in chrome but had to switch back pretty quickly, not because of search relevance, but because of speed. For me every ddg search takes roughly 2-5 seconds to show results, as opposed to Googles <1 second.
I tend to do many searches in quick succession, so it sort of breaks my train of thought.
I suspect this has more to do with my internet connection/location than ddg, but for now it still makes it frustrating to use day to day.
I have to disagree with you there. Google may reach a point where I'm no longer comfortable sharing my information with them. If that happens then I'll be switching immediately. I don't think it's a foregone conclusion yet though.
I would expect that the more a search engine knows about me the more relevant my results will be. I have yet to see a compelling argument why that isn't the case. Since I use a search engine for the sole purpose of getting the result I'm looking for as quickly as possible, I am more than happy to make the trade off.
Yes, actually. I don't think you understand just how pervasive Google's presence is on the internet. Install Ghostery or similar sometime. Then watch where Google Analytics shows up. This will be some rather surprising places, including porn sites and things you might find yourself feeling rather sensitive about.
Remember, not only does Google have records of every search associated with your IP, but they've spent a lot of work trying to differentiate and distinguish people as their IPs change. They also index all email you receive using their services or if your place of employment uses those services.
In sum, this is actually a very detailed picture to paint of someone. It's not a matter of simply not using Gmail or Google, they've infested the internet with bugs that still provide detailed information of where people have visited and it's actually a bit of effort to slip under their radar. More effort than the average person will ever spend, anyway.
And it's not like you can have them remove what they already know about you, you just have to write that off as a matter of record now. If you still think this is a good thing to hand this all over to a company that owes you absolutely nothing and whose existence largely depends on holding this information about you...
I've spent approximately the last 4 weeks with DDG, as well, and I haven't decided yet if I want to keep it as my primary search engine.
For the most part it works well, although, I periodically g! just to make sure I'm not missing something important.
The thing is, I don't particularly mind Google building up a profile of me, keeping track of my browsing, email, and prior searches. I mind them doing it to show me ads.
I strive to avoid needless purchases and prefer to keep as few items as possible (I've whittled my wardrobe down to couple pairs of pants and about a week's worth of shirts, undies, socks). I want to keep a simple, regular grocery list of bread, chicken, etc, and so avoid the coupons lest I be enticed to buy a fancy cereal or something. I know that Google constantly inundating me with products more and more relevant to my interests will lead to a life of higher spending.
DuckDuckGo is better in that regard (usually only one ad in the results) so I'm happy. But if I could pay a yearly ad-free fee to Google I'd do it in a heartbeat.
Yes, we can compare. Doesn't matter if Google is old and DDG is young. It does not change the fact that people have a need for good privacy terms and in this case, privacy is THE feature that DDG is offering.
But to follow up on his point, if DDG were ever to become Google's size they would have little choice but to abandon their privacy approach as well... it's just not possible to make a profitable search engine with competitive quality without machine learning algorithms that use user data.
For brute force 'rgrep /internet' google has the scale and the technology to be way ahead of everybody else. But when I already know roughly what I want will exist, I apply duckduckgo.com, because they're less raw processing and more intelligently automated quasi-curation.
Agreed. I use DDG as my default search engine, because most of the time my searches are for the form "find me the web site for X" where X is a thing in the world. I fall back to Google when DDG doesn't give me the result I need (rare, but it happens) and when I need to learn about a concept. For those amorphous "tell me about X" queries, Google is unmatched.
I think speed is a pretty big issue, too. I can't bring myself to use DDG for really quick searches, for URLs I can't remember etc. because it's just not fast enough. DDG makes me wait between 5 and 10 seconds before I see anything, whereas Google is almost instant.
Google has provided this for years with the "site:" feature (e.g. search for "lists site:python.org"). In addition, Google uses its own results, since as the article correctly mentions "most site’s internal search engines suck".
Amazon is probably always going to be the most relevant search engine for their site, but the current choice for python searches may not be.
An example similar to python but that I have first hand experience with is Perl's CPAN searches. There are two search engines for CPAN, http://search.cpan.org and http://metacpan.org. DDG's !cpan originally defaulted to the first one, but at the time it's results were not as accurate or informative as the second one. Upon appeal the DDG people switched the default to http://metacpan.org providing everyone who used the !cpan results with what they felt was a better result.
"site:" query in Google searches Google index and filters results by domain name, while DDG actually delegates to the actual site and uses the site's search engine, which very rarely is of an acceptable quality.
These are good points, though I think ddg really shines in it's focus on the query, and not trying to be too clever.
Google tends to put too much weight on regional proximity and browser language settings, sacrificing the relevance to the query. I guess their approach works for a majority of people and queries, but there are so many times it just feels wrong.
E.g. on a simple query : http://imgur.com/ezKUm
(I am located in France, so french results come first. the two windows are in incognito mode for fairness, it's worse when logged in)
Back in 1998/9 I was Director of IT of a tech company in the valley. IT, as always, was resposible for deploying all corp machines with the std image.
I was following what was happening in the valley at the time - and everyone used Yahoo!.
I went through and replaced all browser homes with the new and scrappy Google.com as the main search page.
I deployed this on all new machines as well, and I educated users on why this new, minimal site was better.
They ALL started using Google from that point on (~400 employees)
This is the same thing that needs to happen here.
Get an IT manager to set the default page to DDG and educate the users.
(CAVEAT! -- users are far more informed now than then, back then people hardly understood the internet's potential, let alone WTF a search co was -- so telling the avg user "google is bad, DDG good" will be more challenging than then...)
The problem is that Google came out and destroyed everyone in terms of search results relevance. Duck Duck Go won't steal the market until it does search better. The average joe that will cause the shift doesn't care if Google is tracing their history to target ads at them, and doesn't realize that information snooping is a slippery slope.
Google is better only with ads turned off. Otherwise DDG and Bing beat Google's ads anytime. Try surfing Google without an ad blocker to see what I'm talking about, they've gone way over what's acceptable.
Either way I go the extra mile to give the underdog a chance.
This is from my laptop screen. The first non-ad result is barely visible on the top fold of the page.
Thanks to that key word goes to zach from a comment in this thread. The results are pretty astonishing. I'm disappointed on barely how little visual difference exist between an ad and a legitimate result.
;) Google decided that companies that pay them more (between price per click and CPM) are more relevant? Color me surprised. Google is also on a jihad against extremely useful sites that do things like price comparison and reviews. Guess why?
There's a lot more to it than that. If somebody clicks your ad and then peel out within a few seconds then obviously your ad didn't do anything for them so the next time somebody clicks, your price goes up. Pretty soon you write a better ad. I know it isn't popular to say this but sometimes when I'm looking for a product to buy, ads are relevant. And the better the ad the more I appreciate it.