DuckDuckGo (DDG) 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 emphasizes returning the best results, rather than the most results, and generates those results from over 400 individual sources, including key crowdsourced sites such as Wikipedia, and other search engines like Bing, Yahoo!, Yandex, and Yummly.
The company is based in Paoli, Pennsylvania, in Greater Philadelphia, and has 21 employees. The company name originates from the children's game duck, duck, goose.
Some of DuckDuckGo's source code is free software hosted at GitHub under the Apache 2.0 License, but the core is proprietary. On 21 May 2014, DuckDuckGo launched a redesigned version that focused on smarter answers and a more refined look. The new version added often requested features such as images, local search, auto-suggest and more.
On 18 September 2014, Apple included DuckDuckGo in its Safari browser as an optional search engine. On 10 November 2014, Mozilla added DuckDuckGo as a search option to Firefox 33.1. On 30 May 2016, The Tor Project, Inc made DuckDuckGo the default search engine for Tor Browser 6.0.
- 2008: DuckDuckGo was founded by Gabriel Weinberg, an entrepreneur who previously launched Names Database, a now-defunct social network. Initially self-funded by Weinberg, DuckDuckGo is nowadvertising-supported but the user has the option to disable ads. 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. 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." DuckDuckGo has been featured on TechCrunch's Elevator Pitch Friday and it was a finalist in the BOSS Mashable Challenge.
- 2010: in July, Weinberg started a DuckDuckGo community website (duck.co) 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.
- 2011: in September DuckDuckGo hired its first employee, Caine Tighe. The next month, Union Square Ventures invested in DuckDuckGo. 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." In addition, Trisquel, Linux Mint and the Midori web browser switched to use DuckDuckGo as their default search engine.
Fred Wilson, 2012 TechCrunch Disrupt Conference in New York
We didn't invest in it because we thought it would beat Google. We invested in it because there is a need for a private search engine. We did it for the Internet anarchists, people that hang out on Reddit
and Hacker News
- 2012: by May, 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."
- 2013: GNOME released Web (web browser) 3.10 on September 26, and starting with this version, the default search engine is DuckDuckGo.
- 2014: at its keynote at WWDC 2014, Apple announced that DuckDuckGo would be included as an option for search on both iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite.. On March 10, the Pale Moon web browser, starting with version 24.4.0, included DuckDuckGo as its default search engine as well as listed it on the browser's homepage. In May 2014, DuckDuckGo released a redesigned version to beta testers through DuckDuckHack. On 21 May 2014, DuckDuckGo officially released the redesigned version that focused on smarter answers and a more refined look. The new version added many new features such as images, local search, auto-suggest, weather, recipes and more.
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DuckDuckGo's results are a compilation of "over 400" 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.
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 addition to the indexed search results, DuckDuckGo displays relevant results, called Instant Answers, on top of the search page. These Instant Answers are collected from either 3rd party APIs or static data sources like text files. The Instant Answers are called zeroclickinfo because the intention behind these is to provide what the user is searching for on the search result page itself so that the user doesn't have to click any results to find what they are looking for. As of August 20, 2016, there are 989 Instant Answers active.
The Instant Answers are open source. They are maintained on Github and anyone can build or work on them.
In 2011, DuckDuckGo introduced voice search for users of the Google Chrome voice search extension.
DuckDuckGo includes "!Bang" commands, which give users the ability to conveniently search on specific websites - using the site's own search engine if applicable. For example, searching for
!w climate on DuckDuckGo will instantly return Wikipedia's Climate entry.
DuckDuckGo earns revenue by serving ads from the Yahoo-Bing search alliance network, and through affiliate relationships with Amazon and eBay.
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 DuckDuckGo...is really good at bringing back useful sites. It all feels meaty and straightforward and filler-free...
The barebones approach cited in his quote have since changed; DuckDuckGo now has auto-completion and instant results for example. McCracken included the site in Time's 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 2012, in response to accusations that it was a monopoly, Google identified DuckDuckGo as a competitor. Weinberg was reportedly "pleased and entertained" by that acknowledgment.
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. On average during May 2013, it had 1.8 million daily 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. On March 23, 2015, DuckDuckGo retrieved more than 9 million searches for the first day in its history. That month also saw the search engine retrieve more than 250 million searches, another record for the company. In August 2017, the average number of queries per day was 16 million.
Average Daily Searches:
- Direct Searches
- API Searches
- BOT Searches
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