I’ve had a renewed focus on the “do not track” aspect of Web browsing. I think that DNT is important for Web browsing for a few reasons:
- Sites that track you are selling your information. If they are selling you, you should get something for it. I’m speaking big picture, not the average Joe looking at Analytics and trying to figure out more about his demographics. Big Data.
- Tracking your behavior also leads to predicting your behavior, which I believe is dangerous for free thought. You have the ability to disagree with me and cite your sources in part because search is not wholly directed by those around you, yet…
- I don’t believe you need to crunch data to sell something. I believe you sell to people.
It’s with this in mind that I took a journey to spend 30 days on Duck Duck Go, a search engine that doesn’t track your searches and won’t predict them either. You won’t find a “related searches” button on DDG. My experiences have been strange, but I find the engine fascinating and I continue to use it. Here is what I’ve learned, and why I use DDG as my prime search.
Accessibility in Duck Duck Go
One of the first things I noticed was how accessible the engine was. A small dropdown next to your query reveals tools to conduct your search on Amazon or eBay or any of a number of relevant engines. Goodies will help you calculate, just like in Google, but they provide other functions too. Just take a look at these options:
Everything is customizable, and while it does take some setup, the engine returns results as you want them. List chronologically, alphabetically or use vanilla settings.
DDG does feature sponsored links, the same as Google. If you’re an AdBlock user like me you will be happy to know the ads are non-intrusive. Anyone who has ever browsed Reddit and lived to tell the tale can handle the ads on Duck Duck Go. I suspect the Bangs (which I’ll get to in a minute) may also be affiliated, but I’m not sure.
Duck Duck Go’s Related Topics
The related topics are where DDG really shines and have opened my eyes to a variety of places I’d never known existed. From the very strange Meta Filter (a kind of Reddit or Digg for serious info junkies) to the very interesting list of “Knowledge Markets” maintained by Duck Duck Go. Wikipedia, for the interested, defines a Knowledge Market as: “a mechanism for distributing knowledge resources.”
All of this because of related topics. There is a definite slant toward the independent and the open source, but you can find interesting searches if you’re willing to dig. Related searches would have returned a new list of current blogs from great resources, but the same old crowd.
The bangs are what sell Duck Duck Go for me. If I need an answer quickly (maybe 60-70% of my searches) I can use “g!” to search Google. It’s this willingness to let others do the heavy lifting that keeps me coming back to Duck Duck Go. My first few days were filled with frustration at the lack of very direct answers. I came to realize that Duck Duck Go is a lot like Wikipedia. You can just start reading and find lots of fascinating ideas.
Google is a lot more direct, the New Yorker of the Web who just says it like it is. Duck Duck Go, with its audacious “Bangs,” is the art school drop-out who dares you to go use the phone book if you care that much.
are that Duck Duck Go is not for everyone. It is for me, and that’s great, but if you’re the average Joe in a business setting with your boss breathing down your neck you probably need answers. You’re not going to find them as easily using Duck Duck Go, but when you get home and need to unwind—when you just want to cruise around—Duck Duck Go will be waiting in the wings with something interesting thanks to policies that “do not track.”
Richard Bashara is a copywriter and proofreader with an interest in search and email marketing. He has written about business, comics, technology and zombies since 2007.