In a world where the terms "Google" and "the Internet" are considered interchangeable, it's rather strange for anybody to be caring in the remotest about other search engines. One might call it heresy to suggest not using Google but that's not quite right because in order for it to be heretical, somebody would have to have thought about actually doing it before.

People don't think about search – and for good reasons: You really shouldn't have to. It just so happens that Google has done a great job of making sure you don't have to think about it. This is why so many are content to throw mountains of money at them.

Table of Contents

1 Why Anybody Cared

About a year ago, Google started feeding me nonsensical results. It was incredibly horrifying for me to find that the omniscience machine was turning idiotic. I paniced and immediately started looking for an alternative.

It turned out that using Google's web browser's Incognito Mode did more to improve the quality of my search results than changing search engines beacuse Google, even with its recent decline in quality and increase in evilness, is still kiloparsecs ahead of the competition.

But the search engine I discovered in this panicing phase turned out to be really useful.

2 DuckDuckGo Is Better Than Google for Google

Over the course of the last year, I've discovered that in tearms of search result relevance, nothing is better than Google once you've gotten rid of the cookie pollution. (Because with cookie persistence, Google is nothing but a confirmation bias machine).

DuckDuckGo's results are really quite… useless sometimes. What DDG offers is not a better search engine – because that has been mathematically solved already – but a better interface to all search engines through the "bang operator."

Because of the Bangs, DDG has remained my main search engine in Chrome. It gives me a clean way to skip obnoxious interfaces and jump staright to making queries where I want them. If I want to do a Google Image search, I just preface the query with "!gi" and if I want to grab a news article, "!gnews" works. If I'm less interested in what's real and am more interested in what's true, I can ask Wolfram Alpha by searching with a "!wa" prefix. If I'm searching for L5R trivia, the "!wikia" operator is dandy. It saves me that extra two steps of narrowing the query down after the fact thru' Google's shoddy web interfaces.

Now, if trained with a sufficiently narrow search history sampling that's kept in my Google account or in my cookies, Google can get me pretty close to the exact results I want without prefixes. But, as I discovered, this also comes with the risk that somebody as strange as myself could end up getting crocheting tutorials when searching for prices on plasma cutters.

3 Conclusion

Is DuckDuckGo better for all people? Probably not. Many people still don't have more URL's than phone numbers stored in their heads. But as the generation for-which that's true dies off, those who know to ask IMDB rather than "the Internet" to settle an argument over who was the leading lady in the 2001 film The Others, I think handy little shortcuts like those DDG offers will be more in demand.

DuckDuckGo solves a narrow case of Google inadequacy quite well for me and I would never hesitate to recommend it as the default search engine for the only decent browser in existence.

Date: 2012-09-20 21:19

Author: Anthony "Ishpeck" Tedjamulia

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