Notes on Using DuckDuckGo.

I made DuckDuckGo my default search engine about two weeks ago.1 A Google (ha) search reveals that a few other people have done the same, including Ryan Carson. The impetus for the switch was a post from DuckDuckGo founder (and only employee) Gabriel Weinberg illustrating Google’s distribution of search information to sites you visit. There’s been a fair amount of criticism of Google lately for various policies, and keeping an eye on the competition is always a good practice. If DuckDuckGo could provide a superior (or at least comparable) experience, why not use it?

Does it work?

There’s no shortage of articles (ReadWriteWebSearch Engine Land) on the features of DuckDuckGo like enhanced privacy, !bang syntax for searching directly on other sites, infinite scroll, and zero-click info sources.

All I care about is whether it makes my life easier. So, does it work? Yeah. It does. Mostly. In what I feel is a recurring theme of the blog, DuckDuckGo more or less does everything I need, except when it does something that I can’t stand — like when the zero-click box pops in late causing me to click something I had no intention of clicking. Despite the roughness of the first few days, the last week has been unremarkable. That’s a good thing. Search should facilitate the task at hand not be the task at hand. I feel confident saying that in the overwhelming majority of my queries, DuckDuckGo gets me to the information I need quickly.

I don’t want to gloss over the fact that DuckDuckGo is still maturing. I wouldn’t recommend it to your technophobic friend despite its occasional win. I frequently fall back to Google for certain precise queries, to verify that I haven’t missed a critical link, or simply because DuckDuckGo doesn’t seem to be providing useful information. Of course, over time I expect not only that the DuckDuckGo algorithms will improve but that learning the system shortcuts will increase my efficiency as well.

For what it’s worth, I plan to keep using it as my primary search engine despite the (hopefully temporary) flaws. If nothing else, DuckDuckGo may play the role of independent presidential candidate, forcing the incumbent to scoop up the best features and stick to the straight and narrow.

  1. Gabriel has a useful post today on making DuckDuckGo your default search engine in each of the major browsers. []