Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 20th Feb 2014 16:43 UTC
Internet & Networking

When Gabriel Weinberg launched a search engine in 2008, plenty of people thought he was insane. How could DuckDuckGo, a tiny, Philadelphia-based startup, go up against Google? One way, he wagered, was by respecting user privacy. Six years later, we're living in the post-Snowden era, and the idea doesn't seem so crazy.

In fact, DuckDuckGo is exploding.

I wonder what the future holds for DuckDuckGo. Will there be a point where people leave Google Search completely, instead of just casting curious glances at DDG?

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Comment by shmerl
by shmerl on Thu 20th Feb 2014 16:49 UTC
shmerl
Member since:
2010-06-08

I use DDG most of the time, but still use Google when DDG fails to find what I need. And in those cases Google usually does find it. Just a pattern I noticed. Since DDG can pass searches to other engines, you can use your browser search bar without changing the default. Just pass !g bang in the search string if needed.

Edited 2014-02-20 16:54 UTC

Reply Score: 8

RE: Comment by shmerl
by hobgoblin on Sat 22nd Feb 2014 19:19 UTC in reply to "Comment by shmerl"
hobgoblin Member since:
2005-07-06

I go with !ix over !g, as it brings up ixquick.com. Google search engine without the bubble. But the presentation there is very barebones compared to DDG or Google.

Reply Score: 2

DuckDuckGo
by The123king on Thu 20th Feb 2014 16:57 UTC
The123king
Member since:
2009-05-28

I started using DDG after Google started auto-correcting search results. This drove me mad, as i'm an early nineties kid who was always used to being very specific and careful about what to search, using a few basic keywords. The problems started when Google started autocorrecting things i explicitly wanted to search. After about 2 days suffering when trying to get info for a uni project, i switched to DuckDuckGo. For the majority of searches, DDG does fine, and with the wikipedia integration, is much more useful in certain circumstances, but ofc there's the occasional time i'd have to use the big G.

Overall, DDG is not a bad search engine results wise, and for privacy, IMHO it trumps the competition. But for every upside is a down. Not all search results are useful, and sometimes Googles extensive "knowledge" of the World Wide Web is unmatched.

Reply Score: 12

RE: DuckDuckGo
by woegjiub on Thu 20th Feb 2014 23:17 UTC in reply to "DuckDuckGo"
woegjiub Member since:
2008-11-25

The other annoying thing about Google is that it's trying to guess meaning instead of doing keyword searches. Even with quotes and minus signs, it still omits words I want, and includes ones I don't.

I'm like the others here - !g is a last resort.

Reply Score: 6

Privacy vs convenience
by WorknMan on Thu 20th Feb 2014 20:16 UTC
WorknMan
Member since:
2005-11-13

I'm not sure to what degree this would matter for most people. For 98% of things I search for, I really don't care who knows. 'OMFG, Google might actually know I just searched for reviews about a TV I was interested in. Oh, THE HORROR!!!' In some cases, it's actually useful for the search engine to know something about you, such as your geographical location, so it can tailor searches for you in that regard.

For those searches you REALLY want to be private, maybe DDG would come in handy.

Edited 2014-02-20 20:18 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE: Privacy vs convenience
by M.Onty on Thu 20th Feb 2014 20:59 UTC in reply to "Privacy vs convenience"
M.Onty Member since:
2009-10-23

Bubbling (as they call it when a search engine uses information about the searcher to tailor the results) is not just a concern for the excessively cautious or paranoid. It also has implications for the nature of the searcher's interaction with knowledge and can impede some kinds of work.

In the first case by causing an echo chamber that fails to reflect the full diversity of options, opinions and observations available within the field in question. In the second case by causing one to assume that certain things have greater or lesser importance than they do on average because one's own view has been distorted.

An example of the latter would be when I had a dogsbody job researching possible partners for a holiday firm. If I didn't use proxies I would have got more and more results from the people I was trying to research, rather than getting an idea of what their usual ranking is.

Bubbling distorts our view of the Internet, so I use DDG.

Reply Score: 10

RE[2]: Privacy vs convenience
by WorknMan on Thu 20th Feb 2014 21:52 UTC in reply to "RE: Privacy vs convenience"
WorknMan Member since:
2005-11-13

Bubbling (as they call it when a search engine uses information about the searcher to tailor the results) is not just a concern for the excessively cautious or paranoid. It also has implications for the nature of the searcher's interaction with knowledge and can impede some kinds of work.


True, but in that regard, it's not necessarily a privacy concern. I wouldn't suggest using Google (at least not without a VPN or something) that you wanted to be private. But for most of us, how many searches do we perform that we wouldn't want our own mothers knowing about? Somethings are worth being paranoid about. Others are not.

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: Privacy vs convenience
by M.Onty on Thu 20th Feb 2014 22:06 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Privacy vs convenience"
M.Onty Member since:
2009-10-23

True, but in that regard, it's not necessarily a privacy concern. ... But for most of us, how many searches do we perform that we wouldn't want our own mothers knowing about? Somethings are worth being paranoid about. Others are not.


What you say regarding privacy is true, although a legitimate counter argument would be that privacy should be a default online, just as it is when posting letters whether you're sending someone a book token or conducting an elicit love affair.

Regardless of all that; yes, sorry, I realised after I posted last that I wasn't directly responding the the thrust of your argument. I was responding specifically to this bit from your first post:

... It's actually useful for the search engine to know something about you, such as your geographical location, so it can tailor searches for you in that regard.


On that particular point I would say that benefits are outweighed by the disadvantages caused by bubbling, as I described above.

Reply Score: 4

RE[4]: Privacy vs convenience
by WorknMan on Fri 21st Feb 2014 01:08 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Privacy vs convenience"
WorknMan Member since:
2005-11-13

What you say regarding privacy is true, although a legitimate counter argument would be that privacy should be a default online


Right, and a legitimate argument could be made that people shouldn't pirate either. But hey, this IS the internet. It is designed to share data, and it doesn't discriminate between what you want to be made public and what you don't, so trying to keep stuff private that isn't encrypted is a hard problem to solve. Maybe even impossible. Even if you intend to keep something private, it doesn't always work out that way. Just ask Target.

Reply Score: 3

RE[5]: Privacy vs convenience
by M.Onty on Fri 21st Feb 2014 10:41 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Privacy vs convenience"
M.Onty Member since:
2009-10-23

Right, and a legitimate argument could be made that people shouldn't pirate either. But hey, this IS the internet.


Which raises an interesting question based on my previous comparison:

If the postal service was used to transport vast number of pirate DVDs, so much so that they started to take up a significant amount of space in each postie's van, would that legitimise opening envelopes to see what kind of mail it was? I don't know. Anyway, I think we may have drifted slightly from the topic.

Reply Score: 3

RE[6]: Privacy vs convenience
by WorknMan on Fri 21st Feb 2014 16:28 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Privacy vs convenience"
WorknMan Member since:
2005-11-13

If the postal service was used to transport vast number of pirate DVDs, so much so that they started to take up a significant amount of space in each postie's van, would that legitimise opening envelopes to see what kind of mail it was?


AFAIK, they already do this in such cases where they have a reasonable suspicion that there's drugs (or similar) inside the package.

Reply Score: 3

Happy DDG user
by jessesmith on Thu 20th Feb 2014 20:41 UTC
jessesmith
Member since:
2010-03-11

I started using DDG shortly after they launched. My reason for using them had less to do with privacy and more to do with Google's horrible interface. The search-while-you-type thing really bothered me visually and was slow on some remote networks. DDG has a more static page (which I like) and it is easy to navigate results with the keyboard. The fact they offer better privacy is just a bonus. I have been using DDG exclusively for about three years now and have been very happy with their service.

Reply Score: 5

I use DDG exclusivly on all my devices..
by grable on Thu 20th Feb 2014 21:05 UTC
grable
Member since:
2006-11-24

I did the switch after google combined all their services into 1 login cookie.
Which really pissed me off, leaving traces of my random youtube watching and searches just because i was connected to gmail at the same time.

DDG isnt perfect. i sometimes have to use !G but that is becoming less and less now days, or if what im searching for is really old and obscure.

What they should add though is an image search, cuz nothing beats google on that one.

Reply Score: 3

Been with them for years
by Sabon on Thu 20th Feb 2014 21:10 UTC
Sabon
Member since:
2005-07-06

DDG is my default webpage on multiple OSs including Mac, Windows, my iPhone and iPad and including both work and personal devices.

Google is so 2000's.

Reply Score: 4

Counterpoint
by jazman777 on Thu 20th Feb 2014 21:20 UTC
jazman777
Member since:
2013-02-27
RE: Counterpoint
by Morgan on Thu 20th Feb 2014 23:30 UTC in reply to "Counterpoint"
Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

I use http://startpage.com almost exclusively, not necessarily for the privacy benefits, but more so that I'm not being put into Google's bubble. I used to use DDG but when I realized the actual results were worse than Bing and Google most of the time, I looked elsewhere. Startpage.com is where I ended up.

I do still have to search Google from time to time, but I'll open a private browsing window so I'm not being "bubbled". Though, I still suspect they use IP addresses to tailor search results as well.

Reply Score: 5

RE[2]: Counterpoint
by Straylight on Fri 21st Feb 2014 02:51 UTC in reply to "RE: Counterpoint"
Straylight Member since:
2006-06-15

I'll have to check out starpage.com, I've also been trying to avoid be tracked online. I agree that DDG's search resorts leave something to be desired but I'm hooked on on the bangers available with DDG. !w, !g, !gi for image searching, it's too convenient. I was just checking startpage's site and looked through their advanced search options and did not see anything, do they have anything similar?

Reply Score: 4

RE[3]: Counterpoint
by Morgan on Fri 21st Feb 2014 14:32 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Counterpoint"
Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

Unfortunately, no, they don't have the advanced filtering that DDG has. They do have some fairly decent traditional filter options, though. I don't have to use those often, but when I do it's pretty powerful. Nothing on DDG's, but even when I used bangs on DDG I never quite got the results I wanted or expected.

Maybe I'm just expecting too much from a search engine in the first place. Startpage.com handles my needs well enough for most things though.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Counterpoint
by ricegf on Fri 21st Feb 2014 11:32 UTC in reply to "RE: Counterpoint"
ricegf Member since:
2007-04-25

Privacy is a valid and serious concern, but switching from Google to SP or DDG would involve a significant compromise in level of service IMHO.

For example, I just typed "medal count" into all 3 services to see if the "better answers" theme of the article actually worked.

SP gave me a plain list of links, with nbcolympics.com/medals at the top.

DDG gave me the top 3 Olympics-related news articles, a link to watch the Olympics live on-line, and a plain list of links with nbcolympics.com/medals at the top.

Google gave me a graphic table of the top seven medal countries, with columns for gold, silver, bronze, and totals; the Olympics dates and host cities; today's competition schedule, slidable across all days; recent #sochi2014 tweets; a link to watch the Olympics live on-line; the top 3 Olympics-related news articles; and then the plain list of links.

It's like being addicted to cigarettes. I know the NSA issue is deadly to my privacy, but it's really hard to break the rush of instant knowledge. *sigh*

Edited 2014-02-21 11:37 UTC

Reply Score: 4

RE[3]: Counterpoint
by Morgan on Fri 21st Feb 2014 14:38 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Counterpoint"
Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

Google is becoming more and more of a statistical/analytical engine these days, and mixing that in with their search results. I agree it's hard to pass up that kind of power and access to statistics formatted in a practical and useful presentation.

Then again, there are times when one just wants basic, relevant search results. Google tries way too hard with spelling correction, guessing random related words and adding them to the query, and so on. I've also seen more and more spammy results even when searching in a private browsing session, at encrypted.google.com. Often the entire first couple of pages are nothing but fake links, especially when trying to find answers to a technical question. Other engines like DDG, Bing, and Startpage suffer from this to a lesser degree, but it seems to be much worse on pure Google.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Counterpoint
by Bill Shooter of Bul on Fri 21st Feb 2014 00:35 UTC in reply to "Counterpoint"
Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

That is a good point. However, its kind of crazy to assume that you just need to move it to the EU and everything is fine.

There are actually legal things that the NSA has to follow in order to do what it does. Now those might be a rubber stamp in many cases, but its still a process that is being documented ( even if it is top secret).

Now, what are the protections from the NSA for data outside of the US? None what-so-ever. Its perfectly legal ( in the US who's laws they have to obey), for them to do what every they want to get the data they need with now oversight.

Furthermore, EU countries are not saints either. They very well might have their own data center embedded spooks looking at the data. I don't think their governments are objectively any more free. They're all messed up in different ways.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Counterpoint
by BallmerKnowsBest on Fri 21st Feb 2014 12:27 UTC in reply to "RE: Counterpoint"
BallmerKnowsBest Member since:
2008-06-02

That is a good point. However, its kind of crazy to assume that you just need to move it to the EU and everything is fine.


Or even any better:

http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2013/10/europe-wont-save-you-why...

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Counterpoint
by Soulbender on Sat 22nd Feb 2014 04:03 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Counterpoint"
Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

It's funny because the article title asserts that it's probably safer in the U.S yet it provides zero convincing arguments for this being the case.

Reply Score: 3

RE[4]: Counterpoint
by BallmerKnowsBest on Sun 23rd Feb 2014 16:01 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Counterpoint"
BallmerKnowsBest Member since:
2008-06-02

It's funny because the article title asserts that it's probably safer in the U.S yet it provides zero convincing arguments for this being the case.


...except for the bulk of the second page. But since that bold, bright orange "2" in 60pt type is so easy to miss, I'll quote some of relevant portions of the article for you:

So while Germany may not have secret courts, its e-mail services still have to adhere to court orders that cannot be disclosed to its targets. However, an American provider could notify its customer that he or she is the target of a judicial investigation. Google has a user notification policy, for instance, that stands unless the court forbids it from disclosing that information. (But Google also admits that it is tracking much more information about you!) German court orders, by contrast, appear to be sealed automatically.

Löhr also added that Posteo could challenge a secret court order after the fact, unlike in the case of the United States, where such challenges can be made before such a handover.

"If we think the order was not right, we can complain afterwards—and we would do so," Löhr told Ars.

Worse still, it also seems that many other European Union countries also give providers the right to challenge a secret court order, but again, only after the data has been handed over.


Emphasis added for the willfully-obtuse.

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: Counterpoint
by Soulbender on Sun 23rd Feb 2014 21:13 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Counterpoint"
Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

Europe is bigger than Germany, you know. "Seems" is also not a fact.

Reply Score: 2

Er...
by BushLin on Thu 20th Feb 2014 23:52 UTC
BushLin
Member since:
2011-01-26

Will there be a point where people leave Google Search completely


I'm there already. Never felt like I'm missing out either.

I'm not actually that bothered about what data Google scrapes from search or it's numerous other data mining exercises... sorry, services; People make a choice to use them, in their droves and most I've spoken to don't seem bothered as it's free and works for them.

What bothers me though, is how just about every major site is hosting what is essentially a web beacon for Google, whether directly by showing adverts, using Google Analytics or even just belligerently feeding them referrers by using ajax.googleapis.com hosted scripts... DDG on it's own doesn't solve that.

Reply Score: 4

RE: Er...
by Straylight on Fri 21st Feb 2014 02:53 UTC in reply to "Er..."
Straylight Member since:
2006-06-15

I've also been trying to cut the google cord, but I mist ask how you avoided google mail. I tried several (including lavabit before that got shut down) but couldn't find any that could replace the convenience of gmail. Considering setting up my own server now just to get around the problem...

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Er...
by blitze on Fri 21st Feb 2014 08:33 UTC in reply to "RE: Er..."
blitze Member since:
2006-09-15

You could try Mail.com or if your Russian is ok then Mail.ru

Been on a 15 year journey with email that started as Atlavista.net and ended up being Mail.com through a couple buy outs but my email service with mail.com has been very good. Not quite sure about their privacy but hey, can't be as open as Gmail or Hotmail.

As for searching, Startpage has been my staple for a while. Tried DDG but never was to keen on the results.

I wonder how mined Yandex Search is? I like their maps and navigator apps on Android as an alternative to Google Maps.

As for translation services, not really found a winner there. All lack in correct grammar when it comes to trying your hand at translating. Google seems to have the most to offer but not necessarily that correct and the app version can produce some horror translations. Least their web version seems to allow for alterations and alternatives to results if one has some understanding of prepositions/post-positions of the language they are trying to translate into.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Er...
by Morgan on Fri 21st Feb 2014 15:32 UTC in reply to "RE: Er..."
Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

I've moved away from Gmail to my own domain hosted at tigertech.net (small shared-hosting service here in the US). I have two domains with them, and two email addresses specific to those sites. All of my personal email activity has been moved from my Gmail account to one of those, and I'm working on moving my subscriptions and other non-personal email correspondence to the other. As it is, right now Gmail just manages a couple of forum logins.

I don't even miss the Gmail-only features like labels and Social/Promotions grouping; I use IMAP folders instead, and I never liked the grouping thing anyway. Now that Google+ has been integrated, I find the entire Gmail web interface practically useless.

If you're going to set up your own server, be prepared for being your own 24/7 sysadmin. If you don't already know Unix or GNU/Linux, you should start learning. It's a major headache to run a personal mail server, but for some people it's worth the trouble. If you're hosting on your own machine at home or colocated, be sure to keep a daily backup, and then back that up off site. If you're going with a hosting solution (I've had good experiences with Digital Ocean) be sure it's one that offers snapshots or backups of your instance.

In short: It's possible to get away from Gmail, you just have to know what you're getting into.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Er...
by woegjiub on Sat 22nd Feb 2014 22:15 UTC in reply to "RE: Er..."
woegjiub Member since:
2008-11-25

You should use your own server; it's wonderful.

You can install roundcube/mykolab if you want a neat web interface - otherwise, native clients work well.


There really isn't much to using mailservers at web-hosting companies. I use webfaction, and it was a piece of piss to get everything going.

Reply Score: 2

Let's get real
by alec on Fri 21st Feb 2014 07:28 UTC
alec
Member since:
2005-09-23

The probability that DDG has been / become a front for american 3-letter agencies is very close to 1.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Let's get real
by unclefester on Fri 21st Feb 2014 09:44 UTC in reply to "Let's get real"
unclefester Member since:
2007-01-13

The probability that DDG has been / become a front for american 3-letter agencies is very close to 1.


How can companies with no revenue and no realistic business plan obtain funding? Simple they are fronts for US government agencies.

Edited 2014-02-21 09:45 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Let's get real
by Morgan on Fri 21st Feb 2014 15:37 UTC in reply to "RE: Let's get real"
Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

It's kind of a catch-22; use a US based engine and assume that the US government has hooks into their servers, or use a non-US search engine and assume that that country's government is monitoring them. Either way, the search engine company itself is surely monitoring.

No matter what engine you use for search, it's going to be mined by someone, somewhere, for some reason.

Reply Score: 3

Comment by twitterfire
by twitterfire on Fri 21st Feb 2014 13:57 UTC
twitterfire
Member since:
2008-09-11

I don't trust DuckDuckGo. For what I know, they might track user actions, too and share user data with some 3 letter government agencies.

I'd trust more startpage.com

Reply Score: 2

Comment by marcp
by marcp on Fri 21st Feb 2014 19:42 UTC
marcp
Member since:
2007-11-23

I use https://startpage.com and DDG exclusively for many years now ... I never resort to Google at any point. actually, I haven't seen Google webpage for a lot of years now, believe it or not.

So ... yeah, you can live without them JUST FINE.

Reply Score: 2