The DuckDuckGo Conundrum in a Nutshell

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 2 min read

Here’s a bit from a Hacker News comment that stuck with me:

If I know the site where I can get what I seek e.g. Reddit, SO, HN then bangs on DDG are useful but when I don't know which site would get me the information I seek, DDG fails me 9/10 times in giving me a proper result and I have to resort to !g.

This is exactly how I feel every time I try to use DDG. I like it’s clean design, I like that it has dark mode…and then I do a search. It’s fine sometimes, but often it fails me and I just end up getting into a cycle of putting a “!g” in front of every search because I just want to get what I’m looking for.

This reply is something I hear often when I voice my dissatisfaction with DDG:

My experience has been that DDG produces satisfactory results 95+ percent of the time and Google produces more ads that crowd out the results 100 percent of the time.

If it gets you what you want, then great! And I too don’t love the ads on Google (I’ll scroll past them even if the thing I wanted was also an ad, just because I hate clicking on those). But you know what I find directly under the ads? Exactly the thing I was looking for.

And not for nothing, but DDG isn’t ad free either, this is what I see when I searched for smart lights tonight:

Yes, the first non-ad or shopping result was just peeking above the fold.

If you want to use DDG because of its privacy features, then that’s excellent and you should keep doing it. If you get the same or better results, even better! I love the idea of DDG, and I keep trying to make myself like it, but it just never sticks.

For what it’s worth, the plot twist here is that I’ve been using Bing for the past few weeks and it’s been quite good, actually. I have no desire to go back to Google right now, which is the first time I’ve thought that way in…decades, probably. I know it’s trading one megacorporation for another, but I feel a little better about Microsoft handling my searches.

It doesn’t hurt that Microsoft basically copy/pasted Google’s CSS because their search results look damn near identical, so you may sometimes forget that you ever left Google at all. Maybe that Bing logo in the top left is just the Google Doodle of the day or something. 😋