At the risk of sounding like a gushing fanboy, I want to encourage you to at least give a trial to the DuckDuckGo search engine. It’s here:

DuckDuckGo-logo I blogged about it last year here: (Default search engines, privacy … and trying alternatives to Google) and all that’s happened is that it’s gotten better and better.

One of the coolest things about it, for me, is avoiding ‘the bubble effect’ … where Google, in an effort to ‘help’ users with more ‘relevant’ search results, tracks their previous searches and website visits, and serves up results that it thinks will please them better. (Spot the possible privacy issues in that sentence.)

As a general principle I don’t like being tracked on the web, although it seems to me it’s nigh-on impossible to avoid it completely.*

An example of that bubble effect going wrong is this: When people search for their own name (come on, admit it)  they can get a very misleading impression of what ‘rates’ on that search term when other people search the internet.

So, say I’ve mentioned you by name here at The Paepae, and you’ve navigated to this site to read those mentions a few times, maybe even replied (or not) … then, later, when you Google (as a verb) yourself it’s likely the results here at The Paepae will be hooked out and emphasised by Google, supposing them to be  ‘relevant’ to you.

But someone without your search and site visit history will NOT get those same results. In fact, The Paepae may not appear in the first three or four pages of results, given this website is (to quote one of my reviewers, the lovely Juana Atkins) such an ‘obscure little blog’.

Likewise, in business, people who lurk on their competitors’ websites can get a completely wrong idea of how effective ‘the opposition’ is at winning the search engine optimization wars. Their very own fixation with their rivals can lead Google to feed them a tailored diet of search results — results that are not at all what the general public sees when they might carry out the same search.

Search-engines-availableAs I noted, if the results you get from DuckDuckGo don’t meet your needs, it’s a matter of a few clicks (one usually) to embrace the dark side and flick over to Google or Bing — as encrypted (https) searches, including their ‘image’ searches (see image at bottom).

Also, I’ve configured both the browsers I use with OSX to use DuckDuckGo as the ‘default’ (with easy switching and a bookmarklet available) … but I find I switch away very infrequently. I’m happy with DuckDuckGo.

Try it. And let me know what you think.

– P

* I’ve enabled the ‘Do not track’ option, I block cookies from third-party sites, have removed the Flash plug-in, run Flush, clear my caches regularly, use Safari AdBlock, Glimmer Blocker, Javascript Blacklist and Ghostery. Any other suggestions?

PS And check out DuckDuckGo’s goodies page.

A dummy 'bad' search.

A dummy ‘bad’ search illustrating your options.