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I Think it’s Time We DuckDuckWent to DuckDuckGo

DuckDuckGoGoogle has given us a hundred reasons to switch to a new search engine, but I’ve stuck with the ad network because I found the big name competition, Bing and Yahoo, to be equally useless.

But now a real alternative to Google’s search engine has arrived: DuckDuckGo. This search engine has been around for several years now, and more  and more people are beginning to recommend it.

Last night Marco Arment revealed that he has switched to DDG. He thinks it’s great:

In my experience so far, DuckDuckGo’s search is good enough the vast majority of the time. Sometimes, its results are even better than Google’s, and they’re rarely much worse.

Arment goes on to note that one of DuckDuckGo’s better features is the way it lets you use wildcards (bang operators, in DDG parlance) to search specific sites. You can run an Amazon search simply by including the !a bang operator, or you can add !g and use DDG to search Google.

While Google has a similar site delimiter tag, it’s longer and it doesn’t let you search other search engines. DDG’s bang operator, however, is short, simple, and lets you quickly check to see whether Google, Bing, or another search engine can give a better result. As Arment phrased it, this is "an antidote to grass-is-always-greener syndrome: you immediately see the mediocrity you’re missing and stop doubting your choice".

And he’s not the only one to like it. Arment also mentions that developer/blogger Casey Liss had switched last month. Liss strongly recommended DDG:

I’ve switched from using Google as my main search engine to using DuckDuckGo. I made the switch when iOS 8 came out.

Yes, sometimes that has problems.

No, the search results aren’t always as good.

Yes, I sometimes fall back to Google.

Yes, I still think it’s worth it.

DuckDuckGo has improved tremendously over the last couple years. I had previously tried it when it was mentioned on Daring Fireball in early 2012. At that time, I felt like the search results left quite a lot to be desired. I gave up on it quickly.

When Apple added it as a “blessed” search provider last year, I tried it again. I haven’t looked back since.

I’ve never used DDG, but I did just make it my default search engine for Chrome.  I’ve been wanting to switch from Google for a while, and now is as good of a time as any.

Between the adverts drenching the results page, colluding with Adblock Plus to let ads slip through the filter, putting press releases at the top of the news search results, and developing Pontius Pilate’s search algorithm, Google has given me 4 solid reasons to flee  to another service.

So tell me, have you DuckDuckWent yet?

I know that I’ve heard from a few readers who have switched (I’m regretting not having heeded their opinions). What do you think of DuckDuckGo?

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Al the Great and Powerful April 8, 2015 um 11:55 am

I tried it, and found it no better than Google. In the end, I went back to the G.

Amia BooMaster April 8, 2015 um 12:03 pm

I tried it a little not sure what to think. I like the dark mode it has, at least on mobile. I think a problem is, you cant set it as default on several browsers. I had to use Firefox on my phone just to try it. That along with the fact that most ppl will just default to google hurts the popularity of the search engine.

Feda April 8, 2015 um 12:15 pm

I like Bing and Bing Rewards 🙂

Castiron April 8, 2015 um 12:42 pm

I’m starting to use DDG a little and have fairly good luck with the results. The one piddly thing keeping me on Google: when I have "Provide Search Suggestions" checked in Firefox and Google as my default search engine, I can use the search bar as a calculator and instantly see the result, without having to leave my current window/tab or open another program (or take my iPod out of my pocket). If DDG ever adds that capability, though, that’d probably be enough for me to switch.

Liz April 8, 2015 um 1:30 pm

DDG does that already.

Simon April 8, 2015 um 12:55 pm

I’ve been using DDG for about two years now. Previously, I would use DDG natively for shallow or cursory searches, and use the !g to go deeper (maybe 1 every 5 searches).

However, I have stopped doing that very recently, using DDG most of the time, and I wonder why. Has DDG gotten better, or maybe (more likely?) Google has actually gotten worse. (For the record, I switched to DDG when Google added social results to their search. That was probably the start of Google’s downward trajectory).

Also recently, I’ve finally felt it is possible to cut the cord with most Google services. Previously that was always something that I wanted to do, but it never felt like replacement services were as good. Those other services seem to be up to snuff now. (Though again, perhaps Google has degraded so much this has allowed the other services to catch up).

The privacy thing is now huge and mainstream now too, and maybe the biggest thing driving people away from Google. Do I really want my Youtube account linked to my gmail and real identity? I think not.

Paul April 8, 2015 um 1:16 pm

I’ve been using it for a while, and like others I’ve found it to have the same results as google.

Jason April 8, 2015 um 1:19 pm

I had never head of DDG before, but decided to make it my default browser just so I could test it out. Not that Chrome makes it easy to do. I had to do a search to figure out how.

Nate Hoffelder April 8, 2015 um 1:26 pm

DDG tells you how to change the default Chrome search engine on its homepage.

Just in case anyone else is wondering …

Liz April 8, 2015 um 1:32 pm

I’ve been using DDG for over a year now, and I love it. It’s got advanced functionality (love the bang searches), returns the results I’m looking for not the ones Google thinks I need to see, and most of all it protects my privacy.

I do occasionally check Bing, Yahoo and Google to see if they can help more, but use DDG for 99% of everything these days.

trekk April 8, 2015 um 1:52 pm

I used DDG quite a while and still love it’s features. As DDG is hosted in the Unitied States, I prefer for better protection of my privacy, if there is anything like that in the Web. Last time I checked was hosted on a server in North Holland, Europe. I’m totally satisfied and will never go back to Google again.

C April 18, 2015 um 4:05 am

ixquick uses Google’s search via API, so you haven’t gone anywhere except to the end of an API query. (Ditto Try a different search engine.

Nate Hoffelder April 8, 2015 um 3:23 pm

I’m using DDG for the first time, and it has some interesting quirks. For example, the "view image" and "download image" buttons do the same thing.

DDG is also turning up links to posts on my other blog. I briefly called my joke blog Ink Bits Pixels, before deciding to use it for this blog. DDG can’t tell the difference.

I’m also missing Google’s News focus. DDG falls down on finding current events.

Irish Imbas Books April 8, 2015 um 3:48 pm

Giving growing concerns with Google funnelling, I’ve been moving more and more to DDG over the last two years. It has a few downsides – if you’re searching for images that doesn’t seem to be as good but on the plus side – in my experience, at least – it offers search results I haven’t found on Google searches with the same term. I’ll probably use it even more in future and dump my gmail account at some stage as well although that’s a personal choice.

Maria (BearMountainBooks) April 8, 2015 um 4:18 pm

I’ve been using it for quite a while. It’s as good or better than Google as far as results (that’s not even saying much these days). The biggest gain for me is that I don’t have two or three pages of "paid" placement at the top of the search. I still can’t always find the small guys, but it’s getting better as I figure out what to search on (I do oddball searches for shampoo ingredients because I make my own shampoos and lotions. But I do not want Amazon to pop up every blinking time I search for a common shampoo ingredients and I don’t want them to be the first 6 or 10 listings.)

All in all, I’m happy with DDG. I do try other search engines now and then, but it’s my default.

Jon Jermey April 8, 2015 um 4:49 pm

Why not just turn off the paid placements in Google with AdBlock or some similar extension?

Nate Hoffelder April 8, 2015 um 4:53 pm

Because it doesn’t block all of the ads. Google pays the developers of AdBlock plus to let some ads through.

jjj April 8, 2015 um 6:25 pm

I use it in some browsers but it feels rather limited. In Chrome i changed to it when Google killed Reader and that will stay as is.
Google’s results do seem to have degraded fast lately, can’t quite pinpoint what is causing it but a couple of years ago they were a lot better , at this point they might be almost as bad as Bing.

Loïc April 9, 2015 um 11:52 am

I did switch and I use it for about 90% of my search requests. And when duckduckgo is not enough, the !g does the trick.
The hardest point is getting to learn again how to use a search engine which has not profiled you, and does not know your points of interests. You must learn to use more specific query words.

Nate Hoffelder April 9, 2015 um 12:05 pm

The lack of mind reading keeps tripping me up as well. I’ve had to stop being lazy and actually start thinking up new keywords to string together.

Becki April 9, 2015 um 8:08 pm

I’ve been using DDG for so long now I forget not having it. It’s set as my default search engine in Firefox, and I have it installed on my android tablet. (Don’t do many searches on my phone.) It’s rare when I can’t find something using it. I especially like how it highlights the official site for a company at the top of the search results, makes it easier when I’m working at the library reference desk and need to find a phone number for a library patron.

Startpage and Ixquick are my back-up search engines, but I rarely use them. Don’t need to!

John April 11, 2015 um 4:09 am

Been using DDG full-time since they added image search. Before I used Google while image searching.

I wouldnt ever, EVER go back to Google. Search bubbles alone breaks Google, Bing and Yahoo completely.

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