Does the name “DuckDuckGo” ring a bell? Unless you are a Redditor or a HackerNews reader, you can be forgiven for thinking that it is the name of a kids cartoon show. DuckDuckGo is actually a little known search engine. Don’t let the queer name turn you off, because it is actually pretty good.
I have been using DuckDuckGo as my default search engine for the past couple of months. While my initial intention was to simply try it for a week or so, review it and then be done with it, I have started to grow a fondness for it.
As I understand it, DDG is maintained by a single guy – Gabriel Weinberg. Its results are fetched from multiple sources including Bing, Yahoo! BOSS and the DuckDuck bot (DDG’s own webcrawler). DDG has loads of unique features to keep you interested. Some of my favourite ones are:
Zero-click info: This is somewhat similar to the onebox Google has been experimenting with, but is often more useful. It basically provides a quick snippet, which gives you an idea about your query without having to navigate away from DuckDuckGo.
Information Search: If you are looking for information on a specific topic, Information Search can be a real timesaver. Just have a look at the screenshot below to grasp what DDG’s information search has to offer.
!Bang: This is probably the best feature of DDG. You can directly search dozens of popular sites from DDG. For example, if you want to search download.com for WinRAR, just type “!download WinRAR”. DDG will directly take you to the appropriate page on download.com. The full list of supported queries is available here.
Loads of goodies: If you thought Google has some nifty tricks, you should really check out DuckDuckGo. Want to generate a random password? No problem just type “pw”. Want to check your ip address? Once again, DDG can take care of it. Everything from weather reports and time zone conversions to complex calculations and unit conversion is supported.
Disambiguation pages: DDG automatically offers disambiguation pages for terms with multiple meanings in Wikipedia style.
Privacy Aware: Not only does DDG have a secure mode (https), but it is also more privacy conscious. Your ip address isn’t stored, neither is your full user agent. In fact, DDG doesn’t even pass on your query string to the referred website. Although I don’t like the later feature (since if it becomes popular among search engines, it would paralyse web analytics), there is little doubt that DuckDuckGo takes privacy seriously.
Infinite Scrolling: While there are userjs/greasemonkey scripts to achieve the same with Google, DDG supports it out of the box. DDG automatically loads additional results as your scroll down the page.
Keyboard Navigation: Once again, most pro users would appreciate the advanced keyboard navigation supported by DDG.
Relevant Search: Of course none of these fancy features would matter, if the results delivered by DDG weren’t accurate. Fortunately, I have found them to be really good. In fact, there have been occasions when I was better served by DDG than Google.
In the end, is DDG a perfect search engine? No. Its biggest disadvantage is that it has a learning curve. While computer savvy users would appreciate the advanced functionalities offered by DDG, most users would simply fail to grasp some of DDG’s best features. I am also not a big fan of the website’s visual appearance. I understand that DDG doesn’t want to take itself too seriously, but that’s no excuse for looking like a website from the late 90s. Another area where DDG can improve upon is speed. Most of the time I am stuck on a pathetic Tata Photon Whiz connection. Unfortunately, the JS heavy DDG doesn’t fare too well on slower connections.
In spite of all the shortcomings, DDG is the best Google search alternative I have seen in recent times. It’s amazing how a single guy has managed to make super hyped start-ups like Cuil look outright dumb.
10 responses to “DuckDuckGo – A Worthy Google Search Alternative”
[…] slow for you, you aren’t the only one. In the words of Gabriel Weinberg, founder of Duck Duck Go, “It can take 20sec to switch labels, and even longer to search for something. But […]
I’ve been trying to switch to it, especially since it’s awesome there’s one guy running the whole thing, but everytime it just doesn’t quite cut it 🙁 Have you made a full switch to it yet? I also consider switching to Bing too full time, but Google keeps winning my preference.
It’s still my default engine, but I also use Google every now and then. The fact that DDG takes a lot longer to load is a big drawback for me. Also, for some types of queries Google is better. But, overall I use DDG a lot more than Google.
So far from the few searches that I’ve done with DDG I am quite impressed with the search engine! Will be interesting to see how it pans out in the coming months and if it is able to make a break into the current market share of the search engine kings.
after google introduced instant , nothing can beat it …
yahoo had something like Google instant back in 2004, but they didn’t know what to do with it. Last year some guy tweaked bing so it would do instant results. Google is late to this feature, but they are getting all the credit.
Frankly I hate Google Instant.
It actually made me switch to DDG and Bing (I use them both).
Couldn’t agree more. The fact that google instant is near-impossible to disable doesn’t help their case any. If it was preset to off instead of on I would probably still be using google.
DuckDuckGo would be ideal IF it had Image Searching
I can turn instant off on google but cannot stop the automatic suggestions which is why I am looking for an alternativel
I do wish people would not release half baked alternatives and would at least get the basics sorted first
Duckduckgo and blekko are two of the most promising search engines around. It would be good to see how they match up against the biggies google and bing in the future (Wont be surprised if they would be acquired soon by one of these biggies) 🙂
I am confused; I used duck duck go’s “contact” form, to send a message to the developer, Gabriel Weinberg.
I received a reply from SUPPORT@ duckduckgo.com shortly afterwards.
While inspecting the email headers, I couldn’t believe my eyes:
He’s using gmail’s mail servers to host his duck duck go.com mail!!
Is it just me or is that a complete contradiction of what his website is all about ( anti-google campaign )?!
Try it yourself and see! Today is february ninth 2012.