A little over two weeks ago I proposed that we should all switch from Google to a little known search engine called DuckDuckGo. Having never used DDG myself, I made the switch blind and today I can report that I don’t regret the sudden decision – or at least I don’t regret it very much.
A lot of the time DuckDuckGo is a good search engine. It doesn’t spam the results with adverts, it promises not to track you, and it can even return image, video, or map results. (And did I mention it’s not Google?
It is a good search engine, and my favorite feature would have to be the bang operators. These are shortcut search terms which let you redirect a search through Google, Amazon.com, Wolfram Alpha, or any of a number sites or search engines.
I love bang operators for one simple reason: I have to use one to go back to Google about a third of the time.
As much as I like DDG, it’s still missing certain search delimiters and there are whole swaths of types of search results which DDG simply cannot find.
- DuckDuckGo ignores literal strings. Wrap a piece of text in "quotes" and Google will look for the string. DDG will look for the individual words.
- It sometimes assumes I meant to search for a term similar to what I typed rather than the actual term. I am then shown the results for the similar search term with no way to switch the results to what I was really looking for. This is especially frustrating when I am looking for someone by name.
- The search engine doesn’t seem to realize that when I look for a company’s name and the word logo, I want that company’s logo. DDG instead shows results for the company’s name and for the word logo.
- DuckDuckGo doesn’t show the date when a search result was published, or offer time constraint as a search delimiter. This deprives me of a useful tool for sorting for relevant results.
- And , DuckDuckGo is generally pretty useless at finding current or topical news stories.
I do like DDG because it’s not Google (and for other reasons), but its shortcomings aren’t just interesting quirks. There are times where it has failed (and will continue to fail) to return usable results, when no amount of tweaking the search terms will fix it.
When that happens I have to go back to Google.
That doesn’t happen enough that I plan to give up DuckDuckGo, but I do keep tripping over DDG’s limitations and that is enough to keep me from committing to DDG.
If a better option comes along, I will drop DDG and not look back.