|Type of site||search engine|
|Created by||Gabriel Weinberg|
|Launched||September 25, 2008|
|Alexa rank||657 (April 2014[update])|
DuckDuckGo is an Internet search engine that emphasizes protecting searchers' privacy and avoiding the "filter bubble" of personalized search results. DuckDuckGo distinguishes itself from other search engines by not profiling its users and by deliberately showing all users the same search results for a given search term. DuckDuckGo also emphasizes getting information from the best sources rather than the most sources, generating its search results from key crowdsourced sites such as Wikipedia and from partnerships with other search engines like Yandex, Yahoo!, Bing and WolframAlpha.
DuckDuckGo was founded by Gabriel Weinberg, an entrepreneur whose last venture, The Names Database, was acquired by United Online in 2006 for $10 million. Initially self-funded by Weinberg, DuckDuckGo is now advertising-supported. The search engine is written in Perl and runs on nginx, FreeBSD and Linux.
DuckDuckGo is built primarily upon search APIs from various vendors. Because of this, TechCrunch characterized the service as a "hybrid" search engine. At the same time, it produces its own content pages, and thus is similar to Mahalo, Kosmix and SearchMe.
The name of the search engine has been called "silly" by Frederic Lardinois of Read Write Web. Weinberg explained the beginnings of the name with respect to the children's game duck duck goose. He said of the origin of the name, "Really it just popped in my head one day and I just liked it. It is certainly influenced/derived from duck duck goose, but other than that there is no relation, e.g., a metaphor."
In July 2010, Weinberg started a DuckDuckGo community website to allow the public to report problems, discuss means of spreading the use of the search engine, request features, and discuss open sourcing the code.
In September 2011 DuckDuckGo hired its first employee, Caine Tighe. The next month, Union Square Ventures invested in DDG. Union Square partner Brad Burnham stated, "We invested in DuckDuckGo because we became convinced that it was not only possible to change the basis of competition in search, it was time to do it." Linux Mint signed an exclusive deal with DuckDuckGo in November, and it became the default search engine for Linux Mint 12. In addition, Trisquel and the Midori web browser use DuckDuckGo as their default search engine.
By May 2012, the search engine was attracting 1.5 million searches a day. Weinberg reported that it had earned US$115,000 in revenue in 2011 and had three employees, plus a small number of contractors.
Compete.com estimated 277,512 monthly visitors to the site in August 2012. On April 12, 2011, Alexa reported a 3-month growth rate of 51%. DuckDuckGo's own traffic statistics show that in August 2012 there were 1,393,644 visits per day, up from an average of 39,406 visits per day in April 2010 (the earliest data available).
In a lengthy profile in November 2012, the Washington Post indicated that searches on DuckDuckGo numbered up to 45,000,000 per month in October 2012. The article concluded "Weinberg's non-ambitious goals make him a particularly odd and dangerous competitor online. He can do almost everything that Google or Bing can’t because it could damage their business models, and if users figure out that they like the DuckDuckGo way better, Weinberg could damage the big boys without even really trying. It's asymmetrical digital warfare, and his backers at Union Square Ventures say Google is vulnerable."
DuckDuckGo's results are a compilation of "about 50" sources, including Yahoo! Search BOSS, Wikipedia, Wolfram Alpha, Bing, its own Web crawler, the DuckDuckBot, and others. It also uses data from crowdsourced sites, including Wikipedia, to populate "Zero-click Info" boxes—grey boxes above the results that display topic summaries and related topics. DuckDuckGo offers the ability to show mostly shopping sites or mostly info (non-shopping) websites via search buttons on its home page.
Weinberg has refined the quality of his search engine results by deleting search results for companies he believes are content mills, like Demand Media's eHow, which publishes 4000 articles per day produced by paid freelance writers, which Weinberg says is, "...low-quality content designed specifically to rank highly in Google's search index." DuckDuckGo also filters pages with substantial advertising.
In August 2010 DuckDuckGo introduced anonymous searching, including an exit enclave, for its search engine traffic using Tor network and enabling access through a Tor Hidden Service (
DuckDuckGo includes so-called "!Bang" commands, which give users the ability to redirect a search to specific websites.
In a June 2011 article, Harry McCracken of Time Magazine commended DuckDuckGo, comparing it to his favorite hamburger restaurant, In-N-Out Burger, "It feels a lot like early Google, with a stripped-down home page. Just as In-N-Out doesn't have lattes or Asian salads or sundaes or scrambled eggs, DDG doesn't try to do news or blogs or books or images. There's no auto-completion or instant results. It just offers core Web search—mostly the "ten blue links" approach that's still really useful, no matter what its critics say...As for the quality, I'm not saying that Weinberg has figured out a way to return more relevant results than Google's mighty search team. But Duck Duck Go...is really good at bringing back useful sites. It all feels meaty and straightforward and filler-free..." McCracken also included the site in the Time list of "50 Best Websites of 2011".
Thom Holwerda, who reviewed the search engine for OSNews, praised its privacy features and shortcuts to site-specific searches as well as criticizing Google for, "...track[ing] pretty much everything you do", particularly because of the risk of such information being subject to a U.S. government subpoena.
In June 2013, DuckDuckGo indicated that it had seen a significant traffic increase; according to the website's Twitter account, on Monday June 17, 2013, it had three million daily direct searches. In all of May 2013 it had 1.8 million direct searches. Some relate this claim to the exposure of PRISM and to the fact that other programs operated by the National Security Agency (NSA) were leaked by Edward Snowden. Danny Sullivan wrote on Search Engine Land that despite the search engine's growth "it's not grown anywhere near the amount to reflect any substantial or even mildly notable switching by the searching public" for reasons due to privacy, and he concluded "No One Cares About "Private" Search". In response, Caleb Garling of the San Francisco Chronicle argued "I think this thesis suffers from a few key failures in logic" because a traffic increase had occurred and because there was a lack of widespread awareness of the existence of DuckDuckGo. Later in September 2013, the search engine hit 4 million searches per day.
In a recently published book on internet privacy, the author switches to DuckDuckGo and describes the changes between Google and DuckDuckGo as to search quality and privacy. The author remarked in the interview that DuckDuckGo keeps no records on searches, but finds what is needed, while You can ask Google what do they have on you and they do actually provide a pretty comprehensive answer. I was able to see all of the Google searches I have conducted since 2006, which was a lot of Google searches. It turns out that I had been doing about 26,000 Google searches a month. So I could see them by day, I could sort them by type of search — shopping, maps — and I was amazed at how revealing they were. I could reconstruct all the crazy leaps that my mind makes on any given day where one minute I'm working on an article and the next minute I'm suddenly shopping for shoes for my daughter and a minute later I jump onto another topic. It was a little disturbing to see what my mind does.
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- Official website
- DuckDuckGo repository at GitHub
- Video - Gabriel Weinberg speaks about DuckDuckGo at Gel 2013