DuckDuckGo – the best thing since Google

I was looking on my analytics page (tracking visitors to the site) and noticed someone came to hathix through DuckDuckGo. Being bored, I looked up DuckDuckGo and I was impressed automatically. It’s a great search engine. Here’s why.

Zero-click info

DuckDuckGo’s got this great feature that lets you see some quick background info on a subject when you search it. If I want to know who Nelson Mandela is without having to read a lengthy article about apartheid, South Africa, and that sort of stuff, I can just DDG it and look what I get:

Zero-click info in DuckDuckGo
DuckDuckGo shows some basic "Zero-Click Information" when you search something.

Naturally, I can’t write a paper on Mandela from the Zero-Click Info box (well, I could, it would just take pretty big font), but at least I have a gist for who he is. Another great thing about Zero-Click info is that it provides links to Wikipedia, authorized sources (in this case, his official website), and more.


Before I found DuckDuckGo, if I wanted to search something on Wikipedia, I’d have to go to Wikipedia and search from there. And if I wanted to search YouTube, I’d have to go to YouTube and search from there. And so on for every website you can search on. With DuckDuckGo, you can easily search any website with just a few letters (an ! and the name of the website you want to search) added to the front of your query.

Here are some of the queries I can use:

  • !w uzbekistan – searches for Uzbekistan on Wikipedia
  • !yt hey jude – searches for Hey Jude on YouTube
  • !a htc evo – finds the HTC Evo on Amazon

This shot shows some popular !bangs:

Some popular !bangs - Amazon, images, map, news, StackOverflow, Twitter, Wikipedia, Wolfram|Alpha, YouTube
Some popular !bangs you can use

You can even use obscure !bangs like !cpp (search a C++ function), !zoho (search Zoho docs), or !theonion (search The Onion.) Here are a full list of !bangs you can use.



If you search something like “ruby” or “panda” or “star”, you’ll get an awful lot of results if you’re searching Google/Yahoo/Bing/whatever. One neat thing about DuckDuckGo is how it helps you narrow down your query until you can find the results you are looking for. Here’s an example of that:

Narrowing down results when "panda" is searched
DuckDuckGo helps you narrow down your search.



More goodies

I’ve always liked Google since it can do things like “3 * 3 * sin(4)”. Thing is, DuckDuckGo can do crazy things like that too. Here’s what happened when I looked up weather in Copenhagen:

DuckDuckGo shows the weather in Copenhagen
A quick and easy way to see the weather.

Some more goodies.



This is the thing that DuckDuckGo brags about the most. I’m a privacy freak so it’s nice to have this around. Here’s the deal: Google tracks what you search and click on and sells that to advertisers. They can build an identity about you and sell your identity to others, until eventually ads are following you around. (DuckDuckGo gives a slightly graphic explanation.)

It’s not a killer feature, but the privacy is a nice addition. It’s nice knowing that Google isn’t breathing down your neck or collecting your information.

Final thoughts

DuckDuckGo is a great little search engine with some neat features. Visit the site and add it to your browser as the default search engine. (The neat part about that is that you can use the !bangs to search anywhere from your search bar.) Even if you’re a huge Google fan, you might just like DuckDuckGo.

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Neel Mehta

Harvard College. Web developer. Sometime philosopher. Baseball junkie.

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