DuckDuckGo – “little engine that can”

More good press about DucKDuckGo – sort of a story of the “little engine that could” – or maybe David and Goliath.

DuckDuckGo: The privacy search ruffling Google’s feathers, Katherine Ruston, The Telegraph (Mar 8)

First attraction is the privacy – DDG doesn’t track or store information about searches. Second is, according to this article, humans are involved.

“DuckDuckGo’s other big selling point is the way it sources information from enthusiasts, in a similar fashion to Wikipedia, and therefore helping to deliver answers curated by people who know about a subject, rather than just a list of links. “

How big?

The website’s traffic has quadrupled over the last year, and last month it passed the milestone of 5m queries a day. It is hard to establish DuckDuckGo’s exact market share because, as Weinberg says, “apples to apples numbers are hard to come by”, but he says it is “closing in” on 1pc of all searches worldwide.

Google vs DuckDuckGo – again

Is Google Goliath and DuckDuckGo David? Here’s another personal account from a person who left Google because of concerns about privacy and turned to DuckDuckGo. This writer tells the consequences in an interesting way: that she lost the convenience of Google knowing all about her, and had to learn how to search again at DuckDuckGo – and, it sounds like,she  is glad of the new independence.

How I Quit Google “Spurred by privacy concerns, one writer decided to quit cold turkey — and found what she was searching for”, Julia Angwin, Time (Feb 24)

As soon as I switched, I realized how dependent on Google I had become. Without Google’s suggested searches and perfect memory of what I usually search for, each search required more work from me. For instance, DuckDuckGo doesn’t know that I live in New York City, so when I mistyped “Naturaly History Museum,” it brought up the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles. For a comparison, I checked Google — and sure enough, it corrected my spelling and guessed I was in New York, listing the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan at the top of my search results.

DuckDuckGo’s lack of knowledge about me forced me to be smarter in my searches. For instance, I noticed I had become so lazy that I had been typing URLs — like — into the Google Search bar instead of the navigation bar, even though I knew exactly where I was going. So I began typing the addresses into the correct spot on my web browser.

Read more: How I Quit Google |

Remember to use DuckDuckGo

Good piece on DuckDuckGo and founder Gabriel Weinberg, and his core mission to deliver answers and protect privacy. DuckDuckGo does it all with at small team of employees.

Inside DuckDuckGo, Google’s Tiniest, Fiercest Competitor, John Paul Titlow, Fast Company (Feb 20)

“To deliver these answers, DuckDuckGo relies on a mixture of third-party data sources and the deep–sometimes bizarrely arcane–knowledge of its growing community of users and developers.”

Search Privacy?

Use of search engines that don’t track appears to be on the increase judging from this Forbes article.

Why Traffic To These Google Alternatives Is Soaring by Adam Tanner, Forbes (Feb 10)

In early 2013 traffic doubled at Ixquick and Startpage and climbed at DuckDuckGo. Mind – Google in December 2013 still had 67.3 % of the US market at 12.3 billion searches a month – and DuckDuckGo around 135 million.

How do these privacy friendly sites work? Startpage uses Google results which it buys from the company (in a slightly less user friendly interface); its sister company Ixquick, as well as rival site DuckDuckGo, present results compiled from a series of different search engines. For example, DuckDuckGo says its sources are its own web crawler, Yahoo!, Yandex, WolframAlpha, Bing and crowd-sourced sites such as Wikipedia.

Google declined to answer Adam Tanner’s questions about privacy and Google’s use of search records.

Danny Sullivan Examines Duck Duck Go

Danny Sullivan show that promising privacy doesn’t attract many users to a search engine – didn’t work for StartPage (Ixquick), didn’t work for Ask when it added Eraser, and not actually working for Duck Duck Go.

Duck Duck Go’s Post-PRISM Growth Actually Proves No One Cares About “Private” Search (Search Engine Land, Jun 22)

He makes the point that Google is protecting privacy – ” Since October 2011, Google has moved to encrypt more and more of the searches that happen on its site, even if the searchers themselves haven’t thought about this or requested it. Millions more have been protected by this move than have ever used Duck Duck Go or Startpage.”

DuckDuckGo: privacy, breadth, and answers


We should all know by now that DuckDuckGo is scrupulous  about not keeping any record on what you search. There is no search history! I have recommended this search engine to everyone I  know who is at all concerned about the very obvious  use of search history at Google or Bing to influence search results.

This article explains how DDG does that through use of HTTPS encryption.  Get your privacy ducks in a row with DuckDuckGo by Alex Wawro, PCWorld (April 19)

We also learn that DDG, while it has its own crawler, also sends the query to over 30 search engines including Google   Yahoo, Bing and Blekko. It’s a meta-search engine – but with a difference – it employs Web of Trust ratings to assess results — these are two more reasons to add DuckDuckGo to your search tool kit. It’s not only private – it has breadth and screens the results.

Note this correction: DDG does not search Google, but it does use the Bing index and Blekko.  More information about sources  here.

Zac at DDG reminded me that there are also  instant answers obtained from many sources – see this page about goodies and try a few.

“Google tracks you – we don’t”

Duckduckgo and founder Gabriel Weinber were spotlighted in a feature article at Neowin ( ) Meet Gabriel Weinberg, the man taking on Google and Bing

DuckDuckGo, the little search engine that could, is now handling 1.6 million searches a day. Its main distinguinshing feature is privacy – no tracking, which Weinberg put up on billboard in San Francisco – Google tracks you – we don’t.

Under the Hood at DuckDuckGo

More and more I like what I see at DuckDuckGo – especially with the add-on I use to show DDG’s best result whenever I run a search through my browser. (You can get this from DuckDuckGo’s list of browser addons.)

Through this interview with Gabriel Weinberg, founder and CEO, we learn more about his approach to search.

DuckDuckGo Architecture – 1 Million Deep Searches A Day And Growing, High Scalability (Jan 28)

There’s a great deal of technical information on databases and caching. Searchers will be interested in some of the search points.

  • “try to figure what a query is about and then route it to the appropriate datastores and APIs that are appropriate for it. And in some cases bring it back, parallelize it, and mix it together”
  • “Link results are API driven, though top links may come from other sources. Link sources include: Bing, Yahoo, Yandex, Blekko, WolframAlpha, and many others.”
  • “Matches don’t have to hit exactly. It’s a big datastore of definitions, links categories, disambiguation pages, and the many other features they have.”
  • “Core of the engine is deciding how to route searches to the correct backend components.”
  • “Goal is to get to 80% search coverage by adding 1000s of sources to provide Instant Answers on everything. Wikipedia gets you to 20%.”

DuckDuckGo for default search

DuckDuckGo – quietly and steadily makes itself known as an alternative – maybe THE – alternative to Google.  DuckDuckGo doesn’t track your history, it exercises some quality control over the sites it indexes, and it has syntax for narrowing the search. But if our tendency is to use Google, we need some help to redirect our searches.

The answer – set up your browser to default to searching  DuckDuckGo  from the browser bar.

DuckduckGo has add-ons for all the browsers. Review the list at

If you use Chrome, this article -  DuckDuckGo Vs. Google – The War Gets Dirty  from Search Engine Journal (Nov 22) -  describes the method for setting DuckDuckGo as the default search engine in Chrome.

You’ll note some acrimony in Gabriel Weinberg’s view of Google.