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Over one billion searches were made on DuckDuckGo in 2013 (duck.co)
186 points by orrsella 1259 days ago | hide | past | web | 139 comments | favorite

I choose to give people the benefit of the doubt regarding their own points of view, so I am forced to consider the idea that "Duck Duck Go is a good search engine" is a true fact to some people. That forces me to consider how this can possibly be true. I find it's not true for me because of all the ways I typically use Google, DDG does almost none of them. DDG doesn't have local results (search "Chinese" on Google and then on DDG). DDG doesn't have recent news (search "Earthquake" on Google and then on DDG). DDG does not have the coverage to answer a narrow technical question like "does a c++ derived class need to define its own destructor" (answer nowhere to be found on DDG; perfectly relevant stack overflow result is #1 on Google). What DDG does have is plain old search results, albeit not with Google's quality and, of course, without any personalized input.

So for those of you who find DDG's generically mediocre retrievals sufficient, I am interested to know what you use for my other cases. When you want to eat Chinese food, do you always use Yelp? What do you use for recent event news?

Your milage may vary, but I've found that queries which works fine for Google does not work equally well for DDG and visa verse.

You search DDG differently than you search Google. And let's face it, you're already well trained in searching Google, even though you don't really think much about it. If you doubt me, ask someone new to the web try to use Google. The way they search will make your eyes roll. Because you know better how to use it.

Same with DDG. You're just not there yet. Besides Google has a more opinionated search, so it will more aggressively attempt to exclude parts of your search query and infer other possible meanings from the words left. And then it will search on what it assumes you meant, no matter if it is right or wrong.

DDG will search for what I ask it to search for. As a technical user and pedant, that suits me better.

I also have to say that your queries sounds very unnatural to me. They go along as if they were almost English. With DDG I just search for the basic keywords. If I know I need/want domain-specific limitations, I can apply bang-operators for that !so to get stack overflow, !w for wikipedia, etc.

In complex matters like these, there's obviously room for taste and opinions. But with that said, I'm getting fed up with the meme that DDG is inferior to Google. For my needs, I consider Google search the inferior product by now.

My default is now DDG. It works great when I really want to look up Wikipedia or some similar website which is featured by DDG. But as soon as I start to do some real web searching I usually quickly put !g (shortcut for go to Google) in front and use Google again.

Maybe switching back to Google would be the easiest step. But there is more involved in this decision than comfort. It is futile to rely on one service. The customer never benefits in a monopoly or oligopoly scheme. Google is the enemy of anonymity on the web and collects quite a lot of data from anybody. Google is doing a lot of evil these days, such as pushing DRM into HTML5.

So yeah I often go back to Google Search. But I hope this will decrease over time. Meanwhile I help and support one of the few serious contenders to Google.

And it's not that Google Search is perfect. It constantly tries to second guess you and nowadays I end up constantly adding more and more quotes to my search terms to somehow prevent that.

The only search engines I use are DDG and Startpage. Startpage uses Google results, so I'm never missing out anything, but I still keep my privacy.

DDG is for definitions, wiki lookups, unit conversions, some random stuff, and SP is for the specific searches, like for programming help.

On the other hand, I don't understand why you would be searching for those results on a general search engine.

If I search for "Chinese", I explicitly don't want restaurant results (I would have specified that).

If I search for "earthquake", I explicitly don't want news results (I would have specified that).

The fact that Google makes assumptions about what I want rarely benefits me.

Right this points out one of the differences between the two. Google has instant results that appear while you type so when I wanted Chinese food I started typing and just stopped when Google results appeared relevant which was actually at "chine" but momentum carried me to the end of the word. On DDG you have to make the effort to estimate the marginal utility of further typing because you don't get the results until you submit the query. If you don't like the result the iteration cycle is slower on DDG.

I do not want localised search results. If I wanted to search for Chinese food in Chicago, then I would ask for it specifically. I initially switched to DDG because of the insistence on giving me "personalised" results. BS. I came here to search the entire internet, not just for things that are specific to Google's picture of me. It almost always made for awful results, especially when it ranked local sites higher than anything actually relevant or useful. Same goes for recent news. If I want recent news, I'll go to the website of a newspaper in my area. Why would I search for that?

Maybe it's because I grew up with web search as just that -- a way of finding websites. I don't search for information; I search for websites which provide me the information I need. I can see how Google's algorithms work for some people, but for me, DDG is exactly what I want. If I typed everything I ever wanted to know directly into Google, then I'm getting the information Google wants me to see, including if someone pays for the placement. I don't like that kind of control, and I don't like the idea of a single entity controlling the flow of knowledge over the internet. So I don't use Google.

You can prepend g! to your DDG searches if the native results are insufficient.

I don't want "personalized" search results. I don't want Google's algorithms second-guessing what I searched for. If I want current news, I'll read the BBC. If I want a stack overflow result, I'll do a search on SO.

The problem is I find myself reverting to the !g more often and often. I really like the DDG approach and tried really hard to use it exclusively. But I'd say that in 30-40% of searches it doesn't cut it and google does a better job (even though I'm not logged in to it - if that even matters?). And once you know better results are only a couple of keystrokes away it's hard to not do it :[

Why the scare quotes?

I guess the term "personalized" (to use quotes of my own) infers using your personal data to tailor results. People who are opponents of that practice are huge advocates for DDG.

"using your personal data to tailor results", true, I don't like it either. When we are targeted, we always see the outdated ads from 9 out of 10 websites we visited but don't like to re-revisit.

So "pull" is more favored than "push". See the book:

"Pull - The Power of the Semantic Web to Transform Your Business" by David Siegel.

But I do like personalized information storage. Maybe you want to reference to the blog post:

Why do we need the Private Web? http://bit.ly/1c2DzN6

" When we are targeted, we always see the outdated ads from 9 out of 10 websites we visited but don't like to re-revisit"

this is very true. You have just listed a billion dollar idea. If I search for an adidas shoe or just go to a company website then I start seeing ads related to those just visited sites - how boring. Retargeting just seems to be plain stupid instead consumer should be showed more variety

Yes, "more variety". Give you a big 5! We are like-minded.

But from an idea to a popular web application has long way to go. We just kicked off our first Kickstarter project to spread the message out here: http://kck.st/JNqv8z

Some people gave me negative points, maybe they don't like the BingoBo.com website because it does not provide enough data. Please read today's update here: http://kck.st/1exzNy6


'personalised' has connotations of just how you want things, not just 'different just for you' (possibly worse). If you don't like the results of the personalisation that might be a reason to quote the word.

Dunno if this a seperated by common punctuation thing, but to me, a Brit, I dont even know the term "scare quotes". To me, its just emphasis.

Here are some examples of how they're used:

McDonald's is the only "restaurant" in town that's open today.

My four-year-old is "helping" me build a table.

Please escort this "gentleman" to the exit door.

But sometimes, it's just meant as emphasis of the word, together with a nod to the fact that the specific word may have been consciously chosen by others, and you're reusing their label without fully endorsing it.

For example:

I don't want the kinds of results Google calls "personalized".

Using the quotes elsewhere alludes to that same sort of sentiment – referring to something that others do literally call "personalized" – but in not so many words.

There may also be a slight implication of a "scare" second-level of meaning – maybe when Google claims the results are "personalized", that's really just cover for "revenue-optimized despite what's best for me". But that sinister reading isn't required by the quotes, just vaguely hinted.

They read like just sarcasm to me.

I don't really see your point, I search almost exclusively through DDG and almost always get good results, even with very specific subjects. Seldom does a query that yields no usable results on DDG has better outcome on Google (I'd say less than a dozen times in years) Perhaps the issue is how you phrase your query. I tend to use only keywords which I find relevant. Also DDG does not remove the quotation marks from queries(which is a big plus in my opinion).

There is a specific syntax for news (sort:date, IIRC) albeit it has a smaller index.

I don't have the numbers, but I believe DDG indexes a sufficient portion of the internet to answer satisfactorily a great portion of my queries. Sites like StackOverflow must be as indexed as Google at about 100%. The differential must be on sites with a very low pagerank which are quite irrelevant for the great majority of queries. If your query returns more than half a dozen pages on google it's probable DDG would also yield usable results.

>>>EDIT: region:cn returns results from Chinese sites I prefer this to the alternative of the search engine guessing if I want information about Chinese people and culture, Chinese restaurants, or from China, but I guess Google adds value after you train it a bit and learns what do you usually mean in your queries, while on the other hand DDG requires that you learn how to use it effectively. This value added from Google comes at the price of privacy which is much more valuable for me.

1) DDG doesn't have local results meh

2) DDG doesn't have recent news Don't you love it when searching google with keywords vital to your business' placement in the results, a few News headlines show up, pushing you from 4 down to 8 or 9?

Me neither, if I want news, I'll go to the BBC, NY Times, etc.

3) DDG does not have the coverage to answer a narrow technical question valid use case, yes

4) What DDG does have is plain old search results Yes! Remember in the early days when Google was just that? I do. Google has become something else in the meantime, and organic search results are not at the top of their priority list (read: advertising is, they spam my gmail account pretty much daily with advice on how I can reactivate the adwords campaigns that I suspended, how, if I call now, a Google rep. will advise me [try to upsell me in everyway possible] on how to get the most out of my campaigns, and so on).

Google rules the search engine landscape (basically a monopoly); that's not a great situation as we (site owners, admins, etc.) are all completely beholden to a single corporation and are forced to play by their rules whether we agree with them or not.

1) While that may be a bummer to you, it's a feature to me. I hate having Google assume I want local content or value that higher than other content.

2) I don't go to a search-engine for news. There are better tools and sites for that.

3) Excuse me. I just suffered a parsing error.

4) And this is why I use it. Google search has become a bloated UX disaster and Google is a creepy company. Just plain search sounds great!

I'm in the same position I tried (default search in all browsers for a month) but found that I was using a !g on virtually every query. Eventually I just gave up and went back to Google.

My suggestions:

⚫ Stick with it. DDG's improved hugely in the past 12-18 months.

Report your problems to DDG. I've done this in a few cases, and have been stunned to get personal replies in a couple of days. Try getting that from Google (without landing three stories on the top of HN for a day or three).

I'm sold. For the next week (or couple of minutes if DDG isn't for me) I'll use DDG instead of Google.

I'll be the first to admit it's not perfect. But it's damned good.

Hitting Google is a "!g" away -- just prepend / postpend that to your search and hit enter, you'll get Google's results (as I've noted elsewhere here: I usually try "!sp" first, as it's close to, but not quite, Google. What I noticed in my first weeks was that usually the initial results were actually very, very similar, if not identical. Since DDG has the same search syntax ("site:example.com" restricts to a domain or host, "quoted words" are searched together, (either|or) will do booleans), if you're a Google search power user, it's all familiar territory.

DDG's information and support pages tell you a lot, and the !bang search syntax is very much worth knowing about. If you want to search !so (stack overflow), the bang syntax is great: https://duckduckgo.com/bang.html

There are things DDG doesn't do, which I've also noted. Date-restricted searches and localization are two of the big ones. I don't avoid Google entirely, but it's way down my list.

I did enter into this with the mindset of intentionally taking a choice that's not Google, and that I'd have to make some compromises, but that I'd get better privacy as a result. The compromises really have been few, and I'm saying that as a long, long term Google user (since 1998) whose been increasingly disturbed by the company's direction.

It took me a solid week to wean off the worst of my habitual falling back on the GOOG. Then another couple of weeks to double check the results side by side when I didn't find something on DDG that I fully expected Google to find for me (they didn't deliver either).

In the end it's definitely a huge adjustment.

As @dredmorbius told, you should seriously read about the !bangs to exploit it in better conditions. That's fun to read.

I switched to DDG a few months ago. At first I was a bit disappointed at the result quality, but I have come to like some of its other features. First is that it puts a little Wikipedia box on top of most search results, which solves ~50% of my queries. Next is the ! operators: if I don't find what I need, I can use !g to search google, or !gi for google images, or !w for wikipedia. It has tons of others: https://duckduckgo.com/bang.html

Also, I just found a ton of other cool features: https://duckduckgo.com/goodies#Programming

such as qrcodes and regular expressions.

Also, it will give news stories if you put "news" in your search query.

The problem for mainstream is that that is work. Not only is it a ton of work (when adding extra queries over time), but it is a question of educating the masses. That's an even bigger hurdle.

I always found myself using site:xxxxxxxxxx on google in the same way bangs work on ddg.

That, and the convenient info boxes for most sites (it even supports arch packages and bulbapedia articles) solve 90% of my queries.

I'm not saying it's right for everyone, but I like it.

DDG is much faster than Google for me. All Google services are very slow when I'm logged in. GMail, Google Search, Finance, YouTube, everything. They can take 4-8 seconds to load a page, and sometimes they hang indefinitely.

Incognito mode or a different browser brings Google back to sub-second speeds, but it's frustrating enough that I set DDG as my default so that straightforward searches resolve quickly. I switch over with !g whenever I need better search results, news, etc.

This sounds like a legitimate and very bad bug. If you are willing to share your account name with me, as well as any other things you think could have triggered the slowness, or approximately when you think it started, etc, I'll happily report it to our own internal bug tracker. rrenaud@google.com

You make it sound as if there has always been a high threshold of "goodness" in search engines, and Google has always been above that. I think it was only 2-3 years ago when people were saying how bad Google search had become because of all the spammy sites popping up in search results. And years before that Google was even worse.

So how did people manage then? If they did it then, they can do it now, too, if there are other factors that are of higher priority to them, such as privacy. This feels like the "but Intel will always be more powerful than ARM" kind of argument (which hopefully, many have learned by now that it was a pointless and irrelevant argument when it came to the success of ARM).

> DDG doesn't have local results (search "Chinese" on Google and then on DDG). DDG doesn't have recent news (search "Earthquake" on Google and then on DDG)

That is completely on purpose.

Didn't answer the question. What other tools do you use for these other cases?

"DDG doesn't have local results "

(1) Many people don't search local often.

(2) People can type their location in the search engine for local results.

(3) There are alternatives like Yelp as you mention.

"DDG doesn't have recent news"

(4) !gn

(5) DDG doesn't give me news links when I'm not looking for them.

"DDG does not have the coverage to answer a narrow technical question"

(6) Google wins on your example but the answer for your example can most certainly be found in one of the top links on DDG.

(7) !so > site:stackoverflow.com


(8) "Duck Duck Go is a good search engine" is not incompatible with "Google has better search results than DDG" or "Google has faster search results than DDG".

There is an odd bubble that I'd like to break out from.

When I search for a word I'd like the euro language translation of that word to also be searched, and returns returned.

Yes, i know that I'm going to get a bunch of lousy results. But I'm also going to widen my web horizons and see more of the Internet.

One of the things that I find frustrating with DDG is the UScentric results.

It took me ages to find "More | Settings | Region" to skew DuckDuckGo results to a different country.

Nobody claimed it was an accident.

> DDG doesn't have local results (search "Chinese" on Google and then on DDG).

Sorry too much facepalm here.

I's just that you've become accustomed to the way Google works, not vice versa.

DDG don't have all this because they do have develop it to remove the fact that your search result can be different depending on your location or interestings or sexual orientation or whatever.

It's important, because if you live in random country, you don't especially want to get news from what-the-search-engine-believe-that-people-want-to-read-in-random-country. In other words, tell people what they should read or not using computation and / or economic, politic rules.

When I live in random country, I'm often interested to know what newspapers from another random country can tell about random country. It makes me feel safer when obtaining the same result than you do.

Edit : more => DDG do have a region parameter, see https://duckduckgo.com/settings

> what you use for my other cases.

For local searches, I use my GPS. Google often errors by 100 kilometers when trying to localise me, so local search is a pity. Otherwise, I use pagesjaunes.fr which does not work in your country.

I don't search recent news! I read news on some newspapers websites. Whenever I want to search for news, it is for old articles I remember having read but cannot find anymore. ddg is good enough for that.

I discovered stackoverflow through ddg, so when searching for answers to technical questions, ddg is also good enough for me. For your question, I believe that clicking "more from stackoverflow" gives an answer in the first five results.

The case where I used to bitch about ddg's search results was when pasting error messages, but either ddg improved, or google degraded as recently, whenever ddg did not answer satisfactorily to such requests, google did not either...

Using a search engine is an art in itself. You've become accustomed to the way Google works.

Do you assume that Google is the way a search engine should work and all other search engines should follow that? That is, should all search engines produce the same output given the same input?

> search "Chinese" on Google

I get a bunch of stuff about restaurants in small-town Missouri, which is somewhat reassuring, since I live nowhere near there, then actual information about the Chinese language. Awful.

Great, so when you are looking for a Chinese restaurant in your area, what do you use?

Yelp, or maybe a search for "Chinese near ZIPCODE". I know that this is hard.

Chinese Restaurant <City I Live In>

http://www.iens.nl, as it gives me information about restaurants and allows me to select the area I want to dine in (as opposed to where Google thinks I might be dining).

Maybe I don't want food?


I live in an area where google doesn't give very good local results.

I was skeptical but decided to actually give it a go as my main search engine. I love it, for most queries its sufficient but for some (programming specific ones mostly) I switch to Google.


I've been using DDG as my primary search engine since June, 2013. That's not my first attempt to make a go of it, I took a couple of stabs at DDG over the past year or two, but found that the results were less than satisfactory: slow response, no response, and often, poor matches on queries.

With the Snowden revelations and the abundantly clear trend of Google to aggregate as much personally-identifiable information as possible, I made a clean break in June, 2013. The performance and search quality are vastly improved. And while I don't eschew all Google products (though I'm making drastically less use of them, and as little as possible while authenticated), I find that using DDG as my first cut generally works.

For fallback, my usual scheme is DDG, !SP (StartPage, another proxying search aggregator making more full use of Google), and if I'm still not fully satisfied, Google itself.

There are areas in which Google's search tools are still hugely superior:

⚫ Searching within a date range. DDG doesn't offer this option.

⚫ Some specialized search, in particular Google Books and Google Scholar. Where Google focuses on its core competency of providing search and not on grabbing as much user data as possible, I find the company far more acceptable.

⚫ Some deep-site searches. Google seems to crawl sites more deeply and in more detail than DDG. I particularly rely on it for Reddit, whose own site search excludes comments.

As I've noted, Google's biggest liability is that, no matter its best intentions, it cannot provide any guarantee against a government-size advanced persistent threat, especially not one with the law (constitutional or otherwise) at its disposal: http://www.reddit.com/r/dredmorbius/comments/1u356d/schmidt_...

But overall, I'm hugely impressed with DDG.

For those who use console / terminal browsers such as w3m or links, the 'lite' version puts the "search" button one tab following the search dialog: https://duckduckgo.com/lite

And DDG's TTY mode (command-line interface) is teh awesomenessedness:


If Google can't protect its datacenter traffic from the NSA, or from the law, what makes you think DDG can operate outside the law or protect itself from NSA snooping?

DDG's policy is to not log personally identifiable data. Google's present business model is based on logging enormous amounts of personally identifiable data. Your search history for at least 18 months. Cross-correlation between Search, YouTube, Gmail, G+, and other services. And on and on. I detail much of this in the blog entry linked.

DDG could be forced to put an upstream intercept which would log searches by specific IPs, but that's outside their normal operational scope. It also applies only to data-on-the-wire, not data-at-rest. In Google's case, your aggregated history is sitting on their servers to be collected at any time.

If you don't trust DDG not to log your searches, going through Tor will give you yet another degree of separation (there are also browser extensions such as DisconnectSearch: https://disconnect.me/search).

As sobering as the disclosures from Snowden, Applebaum, and others have been, the news appears to be that cryptographic methods do work to protect privacy or at the very least greatly increase workload for surveillance.

And another aspect is that by encouraging and promoting alternatives to Google, we're carving out at least a small niche in which privacy-focused entrants to a vastly concentrated search market (Google scores in the neighborhood of 85% of all search according to some metrics I've seen) might be able to thrive.

Since the NSA "Muscular" program was known to have compromised datacenters upstream, that's little consolidation if DDG has any multihomed datacenter support and is not encrypting their inter-DC links or if the NSA has compromised your hosting provider directly. Given that they have been shown to actually intercept and plant modified hardware, there's really no guarantee that they couldn't plant a tap. Point is, if DDG ever got a non-trivial marketshare, there's little confidence that your systems are more secure than Google's, regardless of capturing search history or not, or if they could not be compromised by the same court demands that other top level providers are under.

DDG's safety from the NSA is inversely proportional to its success in the market.

DDG uses https for its searches. I can't speak to its datacenter links, but haven't checked to see if they address that in their FAQ / info pages.

I find this somewhat naive. If DDG was ever something they wanted to track or aren't currently tracking in some way, they can. I mean lavabit and silent circle were forced to either comply or shut down.

Lavabit and Silent Circle are both predicated on retaining persistent user state (messages, logins, etc.), and could be required to modify back-end code to select on that and either dump state (possibly unencrypted, I'm not sure of the specifics of their methods), provide stream intercepts, etc. The point is: user identification is integral to the services.

DDG doesn't operate that way. Access it through a sufficient diversionary proxy (Disconnect Search, TOR, what have you), and you're simply another (unknown) IP address making another (known) search request. While I won't say it's impossible to tie the two together, the cost is far higher than the case where 1) user search history is explicitly stored or 2) a direct IP history is connected.

Scale your countermeasures to suit your paranoia level / risk model. If you're concerned over browser fingerprinting (https://panopticlick.eff.org/), you'll want to include privoxy as well as TOR.

Note that even unauthenticated users to Google are issued cookies, and undetermined amounts of browser state are tracked. I've got a statement from a Google engineer on G+ that such indicators aren't used to identify accounts, but whether or not they're used to identify end users at all is an unanswered question.

So, short answer: you're right, using DDG of itself isn't a perfect guarantee, but it's a much smaller risk envelope than Google offers, and it can be reduced to pretty near nil with a few additional provisions, all of which hugely increase intercept costs.

If you're going to bother using TOR, then you may as well just use Google Search then.

Tor doesn't keep the site from knowing who you are. It only prevents an observer from determining the relationship between you and that site from traffic alone, as that is encrypted and obfuscated.

So if you're using Google directly via TOR, you're back in the risk case that your data-at-rest identify you. They can be linked by various means: your username, if that identifies you, by patterns of behavior across multiple sites, by ad syndication networks and shared cookies, etc.

So, no, TOR alone isn't sufficient security in the case of Google.

Your patterns of behavior across multiple sites is not going change whether you're using DDG or Google. And presumably, if you are using TOR, you are not logged into Google, using an incognito window, have scripts to block Google Analytics, etc.

If the NSA is tracking you across the internet outside of Google's Search Box, you've got bigger problems than Search History. Searching for "Bomb Making 101" is the least of your problems if they see you actually visiting BombMaking.com as well as BombMaterialsShop.com

You're postulating a threat model in which anonymized and proxied browsing isn't good enough, because somehow they'll capture all your behavior anyway and then tie it to anonymous search history. My point is, if they can do that, frankly, the fact that they have your search history is the least of your troubles.

This appears to be a threat model specifically designed to sell the DDG use case and fight the notion that using Google un-logged in via a privacy browser isn't "good enough". I'm not sure the case can be made that the DDG scenario is marginally better enough to justify worse search results.

"If Google can't protect its datacenter traffic from the NSA, or from the law, what makes you think DDG can operate outside the law or protect itself from NSA snooping?"

It's not just a question of NSA snooping, some of us simply do not want our online behaviour tracked and recorded by companies to such an invasive degree.

DDG does not know when I print to my desktop printer or how often (but Google does if I'm using ChromeOS).

DDG does not know my journey within different websites, but Google does via it's analytics service.

DDG does not stitch together seemingly disparate journeys that I make online (e.g. browsing a product on a shopping site that uses Google Anlaytics, then going to YouTube to search for said product - Google undoubtedly connects these journeys)

DDG does not record every website I visit, every link I click. Google does if I'm using ChromeOS or if I'm signed into a Google account and using the Chrome browser.

DDG can not track my online behvaviour across desktop (Chrome and ChromeOS), mobile (Android) and tablet (Android) to the degree that Google can.

The extent to which Google can track and record online behaviour simply has no equal among online companies. No company that collects such a staggering amount of data about users should be free from scrutiny.

And finally, it's also about taking a principled stand rather than just shrugging your shoulders and thinking "Well, the NSA will snoop on me whatever service I use, so I'll just stick with Google even if I don't like their online practices"

I think the point is that if DDG doesn't collect certain information then it can't give anyone that information.

Exactly what guarantee does ddg provide against state snooping that Google doesn't?

You know, there's a privacy policy (https://duckduckgo.com/privacy) and information page (http://donttrack.us/) on just that.

I've been trying again to get in to DDG and currently have it as my search provider in my main browser - but the lack of date limitation is a clincher for me.

I did Bing's search comparison again just today and came out on top for Google 3/5 and even on 2/5 searches.

Seems I'm stuck with Google, just wish it was old Google with booleans and code search and such.

I've never heard of date limitation for Google searches, how does that work?

On a Mac in Safari when I search using Google, immediately above the search results there is a line that has "Search tools" as the rightmost entry. Click that and a new line will appear underneath it with a date limitation drop down menu ("Any time" label) at the leftmost position. Use that to set search date limits.

"Search Tools" on the results page.

I fully admit this is one of my biggest gripes with DDG, though it affects far less than 10% of my searches, likely fewer than 1%.

> Google's biggest liability is that, no matter its best intentions, it cannot provide any guarantee against a government-size advanced persistent threat

Google is the government-sized persistent threat. The NSA didn't start demanding Google collect as much information as it can on you, Google did. The NSA just wanted a piece of that spying action after the fact.

You're missing my point. While I allow that your statement has merits, mine is that even if it didn't, Google simply cannot assert the ability to secure users privacy.


Don't you mean >1B searches were proxied to Bing, Google etc? Aside from being an anonymizing proxy, I don't see any real reason for DDG. Maybe i'm wrong, maybe the news meant you served > 1B searches from your own inverted index, but I didn't see anything that suggested that.

Agreed, would be interesting to see how many of those searches ended in "!g"...

Are you implying that there's no value to an anonymous search engine?

I use a lot more than !g or !b

And I'm happy to say that my searches where in this billion too :)

I still find myself looking at Google for some queries, but this seems to happen every day less and less.

Mostly local searches, as DDG is still very "english-centric". I don't know if they trying to "fix" this, but I sure hope so.

Overall I still find it an awesome search engine, thanks to the 0-click box, and the !bang syntax.

I have DDG as my default search engine both at home and work now.

As a command-line junkie, I like it that I can access everything in one place. Admittedly, maybe 1/3 of my DDG "searches" are actually commands (I can type an address and then !map to go directly to the map for that address, for example, or a term and then !img to go to an image search for that term). I think of DDG more as a command line than a search engine.

The search results are generally pretty adequate, too. If you search for a simple term, you get relevant Wikipedia or IMDB results for that term, which is often exactly what I want.

And if I feel like Google would be more relevant, I can just slap a !g on there. I realize "ease of access to a competitor's product" is not a fantastic selling point, but for me it's enough.

100% personal preference, obviously, but it works for me.

I'm curious how this compares to the amount of searches on Google's platform. 1 billion searches in 2013 sounds like a huge number, but placing that into context might be a better way to announce this.

It's about 4 hours worth of Google searches, according to this: http://www.statisticbrain.com/google-searches/

Holy smoke. That's depressing and fascinating all at once.

One underappreciated advantage of DuckDuckGo is that it doesn't censor results as Google does, which is really useful for finding, e.g., torrent sites.

Define doesn't censor results. They censor results by blocking content mills and related sites, for example.


The content he’s blocking includes everything from “Made-for-Adsense” sites that offer no content at all to sites that offer only, in Weinberg’s judgment, low-quality content designed specifically to rank highly in Google’s search index.

“Usually the stuff I’m blocking is pretty straightforward, i.e. not really on the line. The few that have been somewhat on the line are usually big sites, and I’ve asked users or they have been driven by user reports followed by my subsequent investigation,” says Weinberg.

I know that I get much more useful results if I search for torrents on DDG than Google. I don't know what the exact mechanism is, but it works.

You mean it doesn't respect DMCA takedown notices? Because I bet it does.

It probably receives fewer takedown notices than Google though...

Google posts all their DCMA takedown notices (which must include the URLs to take down) on https://www.chillingeffects.org/, though, so you can access them anyway.

Is DDG US Company?

Yes. Startpage on the other hand is European, and so is Faroo.

startpage is just a google proxy to anonymize it, though, so it's not like they can add DCMAed results back in.

DuckDuckGo contains a "safesearch" option too, and it's enabled by default (see: https://duckduckgo.com/settings ).

I have to say, I was really taken aback when I found that, and it made me wonder if I was doing the right thing promoting yet another censorship engine. Needless to say, I haven't changed anyone's homepage/search to DDG since discovering that as it took a bit of the wind out of my sails.

Optional, one-click censorship is not censorship, it's an option. It's not the default setting I would have chosen, but it doesn't make them The Man.

just to provide some perspective, a quick google search (oops) informed me that google sees 5.9 billion searches a day (about 2.16 trillion searches in 2013). Before the Snowden revelation, DDG enjoyed a slow but steady growth, getting around 50 mil queries a month, and rapidly increased to over 100+ mil after the leak.



I was hoping for some snark, like: "Top search trends on DuckDuckGo for 2013: We don't know, we don't track your searches!"

They could, https://duckduckgo.com/privacy

>We also save searches, but again, not in a personally identifiable way, as we do not store IP addresses or unique User agent strings.

I'm sure they keep statistics on searches, in fact it would be pretty bad if they didn't as they'd have no data to improve search results.

"One billion" sounds impressive but it should be compared to over two thousand billion searches made on Google Search over the same period: http://www.statisticbrain.com/google-searches/

DuckDuckGo is a Good search Engine for English-speaking countries. I'm European (Greek) and whenever I need to search the Greek-web, which is quite often, I found DDG result's lucking very basic staff.

To give you an example, say the government passed a new law (which happens every day), if I try searching at DuckDuckGo 9 out 10 I won't find anything closely related. If I search Google the most prominent newspaper headlines (along with notorious news-sites) pop-up and I find what I need.

I know that Google closely monitors my clicks (I own a Chromebook and Chrome is my default browser everywhere) and shows me different results than other users. But thing is, for non-English content it's too far ahead of the competition for the time being.

For anyone reading this who doesn't know (because i didn't until someone explained and linked me) bang notation is amazing. https://duckduckgo.com/bang.html

I have been using DDG as my starting point for all desktop searches since 2011. I use Safari as my main browser and use the hosts file method to set DDG as my default search[1]. I wish iOS had an option for similar.

Using DDG started off awkward, but the bang syntax is muscle memory now. I would say my breakdown of providers is as follows: !g: 50%, !w: 30%, !gi: 10%, !az: 5%, !yelp: 5%

I never use DDG directly.

[1] https://duck.co/help/desktop/hosts-file

Doesn't using the bang syntax invalidate any privacy or surveillance related reasons to use DDG?

Definitely. It is just a handy multiplexer - I have a habit at this point to append every query with a bang.

On the occasions I forget, the DDG results seem to be improving. However, ~90% of my Google queries are computer related, and DDG (and even the !so bang) are not as relevant as Google yet for me. As soon as this use case improves enough, I will break my bang habit and use DDG directly for most of my queries.

1,000,000,000 /365 = ~3m/day; Alexa suggests 5.6 pageviews/user so ~600k unique users.

alexa is the least reliable source for any type of metrics whatsoever.

It's just a guesstimate. 5 views/user/day seems like a reasonable mean for a search engine.

I was looking a JS library I'd seen mentioned on here, and couldn't find it with Duck Duck Go. Was about to start posting / tweeting asking if anyone knew where it was, but thought I'd try Google first. This library came up first result. I'd have looked like a dick if I hadn't tried Google first - "Google is your Friend" is powerfully socially enforced.

Now I use DDG mostly with the !g...

I'm pretty sure most DuckDuckGo searches go straight to Bing.

I'm just gonna say that by far the best features, for me, are the "Goodies" (had to look that up[1]) which let you query other services through the same interface.

For example, `!wa ...` will query Wolfram Alpha, `!m {location}` will give me a map, `!w ...` will search Wikipedia, and `!g ...` will redirect me to a google search if DDG's results aren't comprehensive enough.

For 90% of my queries, DuckDuckGo gives me exactly what I need, or enough data to drill down and make a more effective query. And, more importantly, it provides a single interface to all other major search engines, making it a hell of a start page to have[2].

[1]: https://duckduckgo.com/goodies [2]: https://duckduckgo.com/

90%? Wow. It's less for me. But still, they got better, I now usually (60-70% I guess) get a result I want on the first page (compared to google where there are several useful results on the first page) and that together with the !keywords is enough for me. Now the only thing left I need to replace is google calendar and I'll be google free :)

Interesting fact: http://duck.com redirects to Google.com

And was registered in 1995. Though WHOIS doesn't return the full registration transfer history. We don't know who's owned it over the interim.

Switched to DuckDuckGo for searches from the desktop a year ago. Just to give someone else a chance.

If you are giving chances try http://www.plexisearch.com/

I know this is a silly nitpick but I do wish DuckDuckGo had a simpler URL. It's so quick and easy to type in bing, google and even blekko. How's about some variation on DDG?

That aside, I especially love DDG's Goodies: https://duckduckgo.com/goodies

I use it for simple password generation, lorem ipsum text, color code conversion, etc. I know Google has its extras but I don't believe it comes close to DDG's goodies offering

ddg.gg redirects to https://duckduckgo.com/ .

Somehow I found duck.co easier to remember

Thanks, that's exactly what I was looking for.

if you set DDG as your default browser, you don't have to enter the URL. Just your search term and <enter>.

We don't track searches,at http://www.plexisearch.com/

And we don't have ads, so there is that too.

We want to make search better. Not out of the goodness of our heart, but because we figure if we do a good job someone will buy us, and then we will get paid, and the bad guys at Google or Bing will at least offer you better results when they are being creepy. That's what it is all about right?

We are about 1% the size of DDG.

I like the idea: "don't track searches".

I've visited your search engine. Looks like you call Bing's API to get the result. The catch is: you don't get the images back since Bing does not have them either.

So why shall I just use Bing instead? Perhaps you are stronger in the "News" search?

If you do a search we have never done you get bing. If you do a popular search, or the same search 30 seconds later you get better results.

"bad guys at Google or Bing"

I just thought personalized results are better for users. Does that make me a bad person?

PS: I work at Google though not in search.

I don't think it makes you a bad person ;)

... but I don't agree with your point of view. Personalised results are obviously better for Google because they're an advertising company. But they're not necessarily better for users, particularly the HN crowd. Beyond a certain level of computer savvy, I suspect the user prefers to have control of the output via keywords and regex, rather than have an algorithm decide for them, no matter how smart that algorithm is.

I tried GGG but I prefer ixquick.com or startpage.com

I have been using DDG for sometime in my office, in fact DDG is my default in firefox. I don't miss google. DDG finds me whatever I need.

Does anyone know the numbers from last year?

They have their data up here https://duckduckgo.com/traffic.html

Quick tip that's cool with DDG: just type in the URL bar something like "ddg.gg/things you are looking for" (providing that as soon as you type "dd" your browser will most likely auto expand it to "ddg.gg/", you need very few keystrokes)

I use it in Firefox on the computer and only occasionally use Google. I raised a bug with Apple to request the ability to set it on mobile Safari. At the moment you can only use Google or Bing (or Yahoo-Bing)

File duplicates if you want it as Apple counts dupes as up votes.

I'd be interested to know what browser is most popular with DDG users. Are people who use it because of privacy concerns with Google still using Chrome? Or other Google products?

By the way for people who really care about privacy, there's Epic Browser, which has some anti-tracking stuff built-in, and is based on Chromium:


I wish they'd allow people to change the Omnibox search engine, though, or offer DDG and Startpage as options, especially if they can partner up with them and take a cut of revenue, but I guess it's not a huge deal breaker.

People who really care about privacy are using Tor Browser.

the best thing DDG could do is to simulate Google's UI as much as possible without getting sued. Think about it.

Google UI today or Google UI a couple of years ago?

Current Google UI features every block with different margin and content which is neither trivial nor worthwhile to copy.

And I did hundreds of them.

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