Saturday, January 29, 2011

Duck Duck Go is the best thing since Google. Literally.

I am a Google man. I have used Google ever since I moved away from Netscape on dial-up. But to say that I've been disappointed in Google's searching capabilities is putting it lightly. It's mostly two problems: (1) the results, and (2) the 'features.'
  1. It will pull up results that are "kind of" related, like searches for your search terms.
  2. Instead of bringing up pages that are about all words, it will bring up a page with any of the words of your search. Also, it will bring up "close" words. And by "close", I mean, "not." A word that is one letter off is not close. It's a whole other word.
Honestly, the lack of good results should be extremely evident. Google used to be so seamless that I would almost forget how much I used it; I searched, and the result I want is on the first page. Now, I'm lucky if I find the answer, 20+ pages of crap. Not possible answers, crap.


ANYWAY, I stumbled across Duck Duck Go a while ago, and to sum it up, here are the reasons I think you should use Duck Duck Go.
  1. It's open source. You've got to love that. The guy who runs it is very, very open with exactly how DDG works, even down to the how many servers/hard drives it uses.
  2. It doesn't track you. Google really kind of sucks when it comes to this regard. The sites track you, and Google keeps track of your searches. DDG does not. Still not convinced? Read this.
  3. Zero-click. When you search, a box shows up before your results that contains a good summary of that term, even if it's something bizarre like "age of Craig Ferguson" (down to the DAY, mind you). Sound lame? Shut up. It's actually really cool, but if you don't like it, it's only optional meaning you can turn it off.
  4. Good stuff + !Bang. The good stuff that Google has like math operations and conversions, and much, much more. But in addition to that, it's also got it's own useful too called "bang" (because of the '!'). So what if I wanted to search amazon for a new pair of gloves? All I have to do is type in "!amazon gloves" -or even just "!a gloves"- and it will take me straight to the amazon search results. Overall, I'm really impressed with Bang. Is it necessary? No. Do you have to use it? No. But it is there.
  5. Extreme customization. To be honest, I'm not really fond of the way DDG starts out looking, but the fact is, you can change just about anything about DDG. You can add favicons to results, toggle auto-loading results, and adjusting the look and feel like changing the header, the font size, the width, the placement (left or middle), and even the font.
  6. Keyboard Shortcuts. I haven't used them much yet, but I think that this could definitely speed up my search abilities. I mean, they have one for selecting the "Did you mean ____?" misspelling suggestion.
  7. Still short URL. DuckDuckGo.com might seem really long, so you can also use Dukgo.com, which is actually less characters than Google.

Duck Duck Go really breaks through when it comes to features. If you want, you can essentially make it look exactly like Google (sans Instant [thank god]), or, if you feel more adventurous, you can customize it to something that suites your fancy more.

There are only two areas that I'm not so sure about when it comes to DDG.
  1. Speed. Google is flipping fast. DDG is pretty dang fast, but I don't think it's as fast as Google. I'm talking maybe a very small fraction of a second, so really not significant at all. But some people may notice it. Others may not. You might not have noticed any difference, had I not mentioned it.
  2. Search Results. I haven't used DDG enough, but I'm pretty sure that, if anything, DDG will miss results instead of Google, who gets all the results, but gets so much other crap that it's almost impossible to find the good.
    This will mostly take time, and as much as I hate to say it, dedication. Find a result with DDG, then !Bang it and see if the same result appears near Google (or Bing, for those of you with no souls).
If you want it to be very, very much like Google, switch the settings as follows:
  • Turn 0 click Off (if you really don't like it)
  • Turn Favicons Off
  • Turn Color to White
  • Turn Size to Medium
  • Turn Width to Wide
  • Turn Placement to Left
  • Turn Underline to On
  • Turn Header to On & scrolling (or On & floating, which is AWESOME)
  • Turn Highlighting to Off (Awesome feature, though)
  • Turn Feedback to Off
  • Turn Top Links to Off
  • Turn Dropdown to Off
Of course, but turning off maybe of these features, you are turning off many of the features that make DDG great. But maybe you're hesitant to switch over, and I understand that; start with a very Google-like DDG, then maybe you can switch over to some of the awesome features it offers.


I feel I've given an accurate estimation of what I think of Duck Duck Go so far. I leave it to you to try.
Duck Duck Go. Duck it.
-Bry

4 comments:

  1. Thanks for the great write-up! I'm the founder.

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  2. Thanks Gabriel! Thanks for the amazing search engine!

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  3. But it still doesn't let you turn off the "Did you mean"-question, which annoys the heck out of me. I know what I am doing, and if I make a mistake or a typo, I am perfectly capable of fixing it myself, without the "help" of a search engine feature. An OPTION to turn this off would be great. (Just try to search for "smazing" and see if you don't get the "did you mean amazing?"-question)

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  4. Anonymous, thanks for the thoughts!

    I honestly don't find the "Did you mean" that annoying, but if you do, maybe you could drop Gabriel a line and ask for that option to disable it. I myself would never completely turn it off; yeah, there are times I search for something that is not technically a word, but far more often I don't mind the ability to correct my search with one click.

    In any case, at least we can both be thankful that DDG doesn't ASSUME that we just spelled it wrong and substitute the "correct" word in. DDG just suggests it, but you can just ignore it and keep searching. Google does not let you have that pleasure.

    -Bry

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