DuckDuckGo

So what’s a good search engine? Well, Google comes to mind. Ha, obviously. Bing, Ask and Yahoo are all poor. However, a man called Gabriel Weinberg in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania has created a search engine that seriously rivals the might of Google.

It’s called DuckDuckGo and is amazing. I did some basic tests comparing Google to it and Google did just win. However, DDG (DuckDuckGo) has great character and some nifty features which makes it my default. Also, when I did these tests I was looking at the extreme end of search. So I was seeing if it could tell me when Hendrix died, the time in Oslo, my local weather and if it could do various conversions. Google edged this because it did it so gracefully and beautifully. However, when I stopped doing niche searches and just used DDG day-to-day I found it an equal to Google and that is incredibly high praise. I did more tests and in the first draft of this post talked about them but they’re really too boring to talk about here so I’ll just say Google beats DDG at certain things and vice versa. Which again, for a one man site, is amazing.

Here are some particular things I really like about DDG:

  • !bang syntax. I mainly used Google’s ‘I’m Feeling Lucky’ feature. So I’d search ‘in bruges imdb’ and it’d take me right to In Bruges’ IMDB page. However, when I needed multiple results and wasn’t sure of the page I wanted I would have to go to google.com and search. DDG avoids this with the !bang syntax. So now I search ‘!imdb in bruges’ and it’d take me right there. If I don’t know the site I wanted but am ‘feeling lucky’ I’d just search ‘!ducky in bruges’ and it’d take me to the first result. Or say I wanted to buy a Bob Dylan album on Amazon. I’d normally go to amazon.co.uk and search. Now I can just type ‘!a bob dylan’ and DDG will take me right to Amazon’s search results page for Bob Dylan. That is very handy.
  • Security. Google is very smart. It’s constantly working out ways to get you clicking stuff and tracks you in very intricate ways. DDG doesn’t do this. Also, Google does have SSL support but it takes away a lot of Google’s usual search features. It’s also not smart. DDG knows I’m searching on its HTTPS site so will take me to the HTTPS version of the link I’m clicking where possible.
  • It’s customizable. You can edit pretty much anything you like. Colors, text size, layout and you can even turn off ads!

There are some things I did really miss about using Google though. Here are the cons of DuckDuckGo usage:

  • No iOS support. Currently you’re only allowed to use Google, Bing or Yahoo as your default search engine in mobile Safari. You can go to ddg.gg everytime you want to search, but that’s tiresome. There is also an actual DDG iOS app, but you don’t want that.
  • No auto-complete when searching.
  • The spell checker is bad. Google is the best in the world at spell checking because they have so much context.
  • Google is prettier. DuckDuckGo is like Samuel Johnson. An ugly mother-fucker who occasionally stutters but is charming and clever, so you forget all that.
  • Google.com is the hub. You visit it and from there you access your e-mail, documents, news, maps and more. DDG becomes another unnecessary non-Google site to visit.
  • Consider DDG ‘the face of the web’. If you want a deep extensive search and plan on trawling through many pages DDG will say ‘no more results’ and give you the option to redirect to Google, Bing, etc.
  • When I search for a cinema Google gives me showings, a map and the telephone number all without clicking a single link. DDG isn’t as smart in this regard.

I’d imagine most people will prefer Google, if only for familiarities sake. However, DuckDuckGo is a great, endearing alternative. So please give it a try!

September 27, 2011: Another con of using DDG: as I mentioned, the site is customizable. It uses javascript to impose your favoured colours, layout, etc. This can be slow. Generally only a second or two, though it can be longer. This doesn’t sound like too much of an issue, but it will be after a few hundred searches. Sometimes I find and click what I’m looking for before my settings ‘arrive’, so to speak. Please consider this.

September 29, 2011: I listed bad spell checker as one of the cons of DDG. However, this probably proves me wrong:
DuckDuckGo spelling correction

May 8, 2012: I’m still using DuckDuckGo happily. It’s gotten a lot faster recently and I’ve become a Jedi at using !bangs.

November 21, 2012: Still loving DuckDuckGo!!!

January 7, 2014: Using it everyday, still.


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