What the Duck? DuckDuckGo Takes on the Big G
It’s hard to pinpoint when some of us fell out of love with Google. Maybe it was when they went from geeky Stanford students out to “not be evil” to the kinda creepy boyfriend who orders for us at restaurants because “that’s what we always have.” Like it or not, we were trapped. Over the years, many other search engines have tried to capture our hearts only to fail, victims of the collective addiction to the presumed-to-be-infallible Google.
Search engine as stalker
Like many, I greeted the arrival of the search engine DuckDuckGo with pleasure and skepticism. Right on the home page, they tell me that they believe in better search and no tracking on any level. DuckDuckGo does not capture your IP, archive your Web history, save your searches or store personal information of any kind. This means no weird “search aftertaste” in the form of remarketing banner ads that follow you around the Web and are based on searches you’ve done in the past. No worries about the search engine caving in to subpoenas requesting access to search data.
Better search it is with a lean and pleasing design that comes with DuckDuck “goodies” on demand. These are pre-populated queries and functions that do calculations, generate strong passwords, provide bartending recipes and produce the Green Day tour schedule. What’s not to like?
Search engine novelty acts
I know that we’ve been down this path before. There was Cuil and Viewzi. These were passing flirtations with novelty act search engines where we learned that search glamor is pixel deep. And that trash talking wench posing as a cyber-librarian Mrs. Dewey was just wrong on so many levels.
DuckDuckGo has street cred in the partnerships with Zanran, a search engine that pulls structured data from the Deep Web, and Wolfram Alpha, the search engine most like Sheldon from “Big Bang Theory.” A recent venture capital infusion will finance necessary expansion to take on Google, the Apollo Creed of search these days.
Search engines “learn” from use by analyzing the behavior towards results to confirm or tune the ranking algorithms. In order to compete effectively, DuckDuckGo needs to get more people using the search engine. Currently, it is processing nearly 2 million searches a day. Google processes somewhere around 3 billion searches a day.
Level playing fields are a good thing (or so I’m told). They foster a competitive landscape that produces innovation. I am doing my part to make the search engine landscape more competitive by starting my searching at Duckduckgo.com. Most of the time I find what I need and when I do not, I go Bing or Google. Break the cycle of search addiction. Join me and many other professionals in the search world that use an ABG (anybody but Google) search engine as their default starting point for search.
Google will never know…
Marianne considers herself fortunate to be able to combine her passions for search and user experience as a Search Strategist at Portent. Springtime finds her teaching Introduction to Information Retrieval at the University of Washington iSchool. Her aspiration is to regain her Google Adwords certification.