Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 29th May 2014 10:58 UTC, submitted by sb56637
Internet & Networking

The competition between Google and DuckDuckGo proved to be surprisingly fierce. In many respects the tiny DuckDuckGo holds its own against the giant that is Google, and even more so if the user is willing to slightly manipulate the search query to work around DuckDuckGo's temperamental intelligence layer. So it is heartening to see that DuckDuckGo is a viable alternative to Google by its own merits. But the elephant in the room here is Google's extensive tracking of user data. For that reason many users will staunchly avoid it on moral grounds, and for them the natural recourse is DuckDuckGo. Fortunately for them, it's a really great choice. In my case, privacy is not a primary concern. But having a top-notch search engine is. That's why I set DuckDuckGo as my browser's default search engine, and here's hoping it stays there for a long time.

I tried the 'new' DDG as well since it came out, setting it as my default search engine. Sadly, my experience wasn't as positive - it simply didn't find the things I was looking for about 80% of the time. Within a few days, I got into the habit of simply adding !g to every search query to go straight to Google anyway since that gave me the results I was looking for.

DDG's interface and presentation are far superior to Google's, but in the end, it's the results that matter, and not the coat of paint they're covered in. I do agree with the author's note about Google always - infuriatingly always - leading with YouTube video results on every damn query. So annoying.

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Alternatives
by halogen on Thu 29th May 2014 11:42 UTC
halogen
Member since:
2014-05-29

I had the same problem, and since it's the results that really matter I moved from DDG to Startpage (Ixquick) at https://startpage.com

It can (optionally) use google as its engine, removing all tracking and giving you the results you want while preserving your privacy.

More information at https://startpage.com/eng/top-ten-ways-startpage.html

Edited 2014-05-29 11:43 UTC

Reply Score: 4

DDG results
by jessesmith on Thu 29th May 2014 12:21 UTC
jessesmith
Member since:
2010-03-11

I often hear people complain about the DDG search results and, having used DDG for a few years now, it makes me wonder. My results are usually the same or better under DDG, which makes me curious as to what other people are searching for that up to 80% of the time they cannot find what they want. I wonder if my interests are so very different that I get what I want from DDG 99% of the time as opposed to other people's 20%? Or do I perform queries differently?

Reply Score: 7

RE: DDG results
by Flatland_Spider on Thu 29th May 2014 14:59 UTC in reply to "DDG results"
Flatland_Spider Member since:
2006-09-01

I think it's the difference between search results, results returned based on meeting the criteria of the input without any prior knowledge, and "search results", guesses of the users intent based on data points that have been collected.

I like DDG, and I use it as my default search engine. It makes no assumptions about what I would be searching for, and that is really handy since my searches aren't necessarily related to each other.

I still use Google when I'm not finding what I need on DDG, but those times are very rare.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: DDG results
by Jbso on Thu 29th May 2014 15:53 UTC in reply to "RE: DDG results"
Jbso Member since:
2013-01-05

I primarily use DDG when my Google history is screwing up my current results. At the same time, I often find those history-based results to be helpful, particularly if I'm having a difficult time figuring how to best phrase a search.

I'd guess the general public has this problem a lot, making Google Guesses quite valuable to them.

Reply Score: 3

RE: DDG results
by Kivada on Sat 31st May 2014 00:02 UTC in reply to "DDG results"
Kivada Member since:
2010-07-07

For most things I find DDG to be acceptable. But stuff like model numbers or tracking down info on various comp problems usually return useless results where Google will give me what I want somewhere in the top 20 results(I disable instant and have it return 100 results per page).

Reply Score: 3

Try this
by Drunkula on Thu 29th May 2014 13:07 UTC
Drunkula
Member since:
2009-09-03

Can't you just add -youtube to your Google search queries?

Reply Score: 5

RE: Try this
by ddc_ on Fri 30th May 2014 00:10 UTC in reply to "Try this"
ddc_ Member since:
2006-12-05

Now this is really silly. Given that youtube is not the only site Google assigns improperly high weight to, the search query for making things workable would turn into monstrous abomination of couple of search terms ammended with multiple "-siteX" keys. I also wonder whether Google at all is worth trying if search queries have to be routinely manipulated this way.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Try this
by Kivada on Sat 31st May 2014 00:05 UTC in reply to "Try this"
Kivada Member since:
2010-07-07

Actually I'd be happier if Google hadn't crippled Youtube's search functions. seems it's now impossible to omit items from the results on Youtube, to do so you have to do a google site search with the terms and omissions against youtube.com...

Reply Score: 4

Feedback from DDG engineers
by sb56637 on Thu 29th May 2014 14:08 UTC
sb56637
Member since:
2006-05-11

In the Reddit thread about this article I just got a reply from... one of the DDG engineers who is specifically working on improving the relevancy of their results! Try getting THAT from Google, Bing, or Yandex.

He mentioned that the problems I observed with DDG automatically correcting some queries and replacing terms with irrelevant substitutes is a known bug (https://duck.co/help/results/autocorrect) and that they are working on fixing this as a high priority.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Feedback from DDG engineers
by Flatland_Spider on Thu 29th May 2014 14:45 UTC in reply to "Feedback from DDG engineers"
Flatland_Spider Member since:
2006-09-01

I happen to like the randomness of autocomplete. It's quirky, and it introduces a little bit of levity. ;)

Reply Score: 2

DDG and languages
by wazoox on Thu 29th May 2014 15:33 UTC
wazoox
Member since:
2005-07-14

DDG works generally well for many english language searches. However results in other languages are very poor compared to the big G. Similarly, searches on a couple of letters (compare searches on "nx" for example) are much better on google.

Edited 2014-05-29 15:34 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE: DDG and languages
by Jbso on Thu 29th May 2014 15:55 UTC in reply to "DDG and languages"
Jbso Member since:
2013-01-05

Indeed, the article looks at Yandex and trying Yandex in English is a good way to get a sense of what it's like to use DDG or Bing in Russian.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: DDG and languages
by ddc_ on Fri 30th May 2014 00:16 UTC in reply to "RE: DDG and languages"
ddc_ Member since:
2006-12-05

Apparently DDG was useless for searchs in Russian for quite some time, but lately it became more or less on par, mostly because it assigns more weight to Yandex results and ammends them with those from Google. Last time I compared, all three gave comparable results with no clear winner.

Reply Score: 3

...
by Hiev on Thu 29th May 2014 22:01 UTC
Hiev
Member since:
2005-09-27

To me duckduck go has been better than Google lately, faster and with better results.

Edited 2014-05-29 22:01 UTC

Reply Score: 3

no youtube links for me
by nicubunu on Fri 30th May 2014 08:19 UTC
nicubunu
Member since:
2014-01-08

Perhaps Google knows you use YouTube a lot and tries to be useful or maybe is related to the things you search, for me YouTube video links *rarely* appear as top results and when they do, it happens because is a specific search where video results make sense.

Reply Score: 3

RE: no youtube links for me
by sb56637 on Fri 30th May 2014 14:11 UTC in reply to "no youtube links for me"
sb56637 Member since:
2006-05-11

Perhaps Google knows you use YouTube a lot and tries to be useful or maybe is related to the things you search, for me YouTube video links *rarely* appear as top results and when they do, it happens because is a specific search where video results make sense.


I sure hope that Google didn't take into account my personal search history, because for this review I opened a private browsing window and didn't login to my Google account. And I never even opened Youtube inside that session.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: no youtube links for me
by SeeM on Sat 31st May 2014 05:07 UTC in reply to "RE: no youtube links for me"
SeeM Member since:
2011-09-10

I sure hope that Google didn't take into account my personal search history, because for this review I opened a private browsing window and didn't login to my Google account. And I never even opened Youtube inside that session.


You know that cookies can be saved on Google, too? They could match some of your previous IP and country/city info to create your profile without relying on cookies in your cache. It's not 100% accurate, but better than nothing.

I wonder if they're trying something like that.

Reply Score: 2

DDG needs better forum search
by Gooberslot on Fri 30th May 2014 10:58 UTC
Gooberslot
Member since:
2006-08-02

One area that DDG really needs to improve on is searching through forums. That's often where I find the info I need and Google excels at that.

Reply Score: 4

RE: DDG needs better forum search
by sb56637 on Fri 30th May 2014 14:15 UTC in reply to "DDG needs better forum search"
sb56637 Member since:
2006-05-11

One thing that DDG could do to improve the presentation layer of their results was mentioned in the article, about the way that DDG groups results from the same TLD under a "More from example.com" link. I personally don't like this, because in examples like you mention, there are often multiple relevant results from the same site. So DDG usually has additional results for forums, but it requires an additional click to see them.

Reply Score: 4

avgalen
Member since:
2010-09-23

[quote]"In many respects the tiny DuckDuckGo holds its own against the giant that is Google"[/quote]

Well, I would challenge everyone to read the article, count the number of searches done and then count how "many" times DDG holds it own.

The result of this article is very clear. There is Google, and then there is everyone else. Which is sad but also obvious to the entire world. Google has a monopoly on search because it is the best at search

Reply Score: 3

sb56637 Member since:
2006-05-11

"In many respects the tiny DuckDuckGo holds its own against the giant that is Google"

Well, I would challenge everyone to read the article, count the number of searches done and then count how "many" times DDG holds it own.


In five out of ten search query tests, DDG was as good or better than Google. The DDG interface received the same grade as Google (Good). And DDG's instant answer system also received the same grade as Google.

By the way, that quote is copied directly out of the last paragraph of the source article, which I wrote. So I can assure you that I did read it as well. ;) After testing DDG and writing the article, I honestly do feel that it holds its own against Google "in many respects" but not all.

Edited 2014-05-30 14:26 UTC

Reply Score: 3

SeeM Member since:
2011-09-10

I honestly do feel that it holds its own against Google "in many respects" but not all.


Type above sentence to DGG and Google. Why G is showing your reply as a first result? Because you've been there and they know it. That's why they show you what you want.

No matter how good search engine is, it's useless without profile and caching.

Edited 2014-05-31 05:15 UTC

Reply Score: 3

sb56637 Member since:
2006-05-11

That kind of customization of search results based on the user's preferences can create what they call a "filter bubble".
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Filter_bubble
So if I am searching on one of my favorite topics on Google, it will tend to give me opinions that agree with me based on my likes and previous search history, and I will never find any conflicting opinions. Not a good thing.

Reply Score: 3

SeeM Member since:
2011-09-10

So if I am searching on one of my favorite topics on Google, it will tend to give me opinions that agree with me based on my likes and previous search history, and I will never find any conflicting opinions. Not a good thing.


When I'm searching for Gnome news I constantly find GNOME 3 SUCKS and I like new Gnome. Apparently Gnome haters are really good in positioning.

Reply Score: 3