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Hi, Gabriel Weinberg here. Sorry to offend you, as was of course not my intention.

I also of course don't think this is FUD at all. As far as I know, this is the first quantitative study of any kind about the filter bubble. I think it is hard to dismiss a concept out of hand when it hasn't even been effectively studied yet.

Also, the filter bubble it is not an effective marketing message because it requires too much education given it is a complicated subject no one knows about.

I also think tailoring can be just fine when it is opt-in and you are in complete control of your data.

As for DuckDuckGo, we've been telling people plenty about new stuff. Most recently we've been focused on our open-source plugin platform -- DuckDuckHack, http://duckduckhack.com/ -- where you can hack the search engine. And people have been doing it and making cool stuff, e.g. https://duckduckgo.com/?q=khan+math and lots of others: https://duckduckgo.com/goodies/.

Thanks for your answer. I'm not offended, I'm just getting some kind of fatigue reading your anti-google posts. I think insinuating Google care more about Obama than Romney is bordering on FUD, like all of your anti "bubble" articles are always bordering on FUD or at least intend to scare people a bit. You can't deny you're kind of aware of that, aren't you?

It's been more than a year now since you're writing anti-google and anti-personalized results articles. It's getting old and people love personalized results. I don't think it should be made opt-in as I think Google (and any product) should make the best option opted-in by default, and personalized results is the best option as it offers the best experience for regular users. Why would they offer a worst experience by default? It doesn't make sense. Also, most people don't know or care enough about changing options so they'd just keep the worst experience by default.

Let's take my brother's example again, if he searched for "ruby" and got results about rails and ruby.rb first before the gemstone because they are more popular than ruby the gemstone, my brother would just be confused and may even waste time clicking on the rails link first. So what should google do, propose a link that would say "opt-in to have search results that actually make sense to you". Do you see how absurd and bad UX that would be?

People who care about these kinds of things already opted-out, in fact, the most paranoid hackers I know don't even use DDG, they use Google+Thor and turn JS/cookies off. It's cool that DDG is adding more features but that's not anything I care enough to use or I could just write a quick google chrome script that'd do the same.


why do we have to have an assumption that personalised means doing so in a negative way like enforcing a political affiliation? perhaps the engine can be clever enough to realise that some things like localised weather are a reasonable personalisation, whereas politics are more dangerous and should be less personalised.

it seems to me that both google and ddg have problems here, ddg in not personalising at all, and google in personalising things that really shouldn't be.


> ddg in not personalising at all

I think DDG has some personalization based on your location, for example if I search "weather" it shows me the weather near me.


I question your methodology, to be honest. Starting with such loaded search terms is the opposite of the scientific method, since you haven't established any kind of neutral baseline. Picking candidates' names is also problematic, since (as pointed out by numerous people) Obama has been President for a long tome whereas Romney has only been the Republican nominee for 7-8 months. It would have been more rational to start with, say, Democrat and Republican which are comparatively 'timeless' terms. Also, I don't see any indication that you attempted to offset bias in your sample set.

I don't mind it as a bit of election-related marketing, but it doesn't strike me as very rigorous.


Hi Gabriel. Glad you responded here!

I've been generally curious about DDG for awhile now and I'm still trying to figure out why I should make a switch. If I understand correctly; DDG is trying to solve a problem in internet search so that people can't find things easier on the internet without sacrificing knowledge about one's self or behaviors, and your organization believes that that problem is largely due to the opt-out nature (or rather how you are automatically opt-in'd to everything) of Google's platform.

Also, the filter bubble it is not an effective marketing message because it requires too much education given it is a complicated subject no one knows about.

I guess, I, like many others who have expressed interest, don't see the problems with this. More commonly, I can't say my mother or my boss or anyone else I know is encountering this as a problem or a challenge. I'm happy to be wrong.

I find this whole topic absolutely fascinating, especially after having recently read Nudge by Richard Thaler, which basically is a whole book which talks about the value of libertarian paternalism. In other words, how opt-out choice architecture can be much more suitable than having completely free choice. Would love to know your thoughts. Great blog, this is fascinating stuff!


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