Made the switch to Duck Duck Go

I recently decided to change my default search engine.  Call it a mid life crisis, or maybe just a sign of boredom, but I felt the time was right to start making changes to my “on-line life” and review aspects of related to my digital identity.

Personally, for me Search makes up a large proportion of my daily internet usage, because as software developer I’m always searching for code samples or tutorials to learn how to use a library or software utility. Over the years I have come to master how to use search engines to find what I need.

Like a vast majority of the planet , Google has been my predominant search engine for the better part of the last 10 years.  I can’t recall what factors actually prompted me to switch to Google,  maybe it was just Social Pressure or just a subliminal stimuli.

Social pressure consists of the comments, criticisms, attitudes and emotions of people directed against other people who do or say things that those employing the pressure do not approve of. It is a method of changing and controlling the behavior of other people, both on the “micro” level (i.e. among acquaintances, friends and family), and also on the “macro” level (as a technique of social engineering and control).

After, using Google as my default search engine for a number of years I felt it was time for a change and decided to appraise some search engines. As you’ll see it didn’t take long for me to find one I liked!

Have a go a bing!

When you analyse it, it’s surprising what factors come to the fore when consciously making a choice of search engine.

All I have to say is what is Bing?.  I tried Bing out for a week or two . I can’t tell you what put me off it exactly, but I have to say to took a disliking to it.  Maybe it was the fact that there were just too many adverts in the search results, that weren’t filtered by AdBlock plus. Whatever it was, Bing just didn’t do it for me.

Another huge draw back with Bing, is that it is a well known fact within the black hat SEO community,  is that its indexing algorithm is exploited easily. Therefore it is much more likely that  SEO Experts are able to use heavy handed onpage SEO techniques like body text keyword repetition and spammy meta tagging to manipulate results.

I also just don’t like the fact that Bing’s homepage just looks like one of those cheap directory sites, specifically designed to distract and lead you astray.

Whatever it was, it just felt that search with Bing, is just a dirty sensation, just keep on having that nagging feeling that something isn’t right!

Making a switch to Duck Duck Go

It was an evening mucking about on the Raspberry Pi, that I noticed that the default search engine on the Epiphany browser on the Pi was Duck Duck Go.  I’d never heard of it before, it seemed to be a real minnow in the search engine field.  There is something in me that always wants to back the minnow.

After exploring Duck Duck Go for a while I felt it had real potential, primarily because  It had a few things going for it from the outset, it has delightfully stupid name.   Every search engine needs a stupid name, and really can you get any more stupid than Duck Duck Go! For those people that know me well, will know I have penchant for things that sound stupid!

After satisfying the key element a search Search Engine needs. it was it’s  tag line that really grabbed me

The search engine that doesn’t track you.

I did a little research on found out the search engine doesn’t  store your previous searches, it does not and cannot present personalised search results.  In theory this frees users from the filter bubble – the fear that, as search results are increasingly personalised, they are less likely to be presented with information that challenges their existing ideas.

It also means that DuckDuckGo is forced to keep its focus purely on search. With no stores or data to tap, it cannot become an advertising behemoth, it has no motivation to start trying to build a social network and it doesn’t get anything out of scanning your emails to create a personal profile.

Like most people on the planet today,  I do spend an inordinate amount of my time trying to avoid advertising and marketing.  Be it the targeted or even more critical  UN-targeted variety.

I’m not really one to concern myself too much about my Privacy Online, after all I wouldn’t be blogging if I was concerned with with some of my personal data being out in the wild.  However, what I don’t really like is organisations collecting my “personal data” with a view of trying to sell me some stuff I don’t really need or maybe more likely don’t want. 

So to come across a search engine, which only wanted to do one thing, and be a utility for me to search the internet for things I actually want. Well this was something I needed to use.

The DuckDuckGo experience

I’ve been using Duck Duck Go, for about 6 weeks now,  I have it set as my default search engine in Firefox and have used it exclusively. Overall, I am quite satisfied,  there are some features that are just better in Google,  but when I compare them both with my tin foil hat on, I think morally prefer Duck Duck Go.

Will it still be my default search engine 10 years from now?  I haven’t really got an answer for that, but for now it certainly is. I recommend you at least give it a try, if for nothing else but too make a change to your browsing habits.

Information

I have been using DuckDuckGo as my primary search engine for a number years now. I thought I would add some more relevant information.

Extended update

Over the years, I’m guessing around 5 now, I have been using DuckDuckGo as my primary search engine. It’s pretty much the default engine on all my machines and browsers. This coincides with the fact that my default browser of choice is the Brave Browser, which is for the most part the only browser I use now. I have it installed on my devices.

A decision, which you can read more about on how to get back your online privacy.

I very rarely use Google, as a search engine these days. Ironically, it’s only when I do some SEO research or some some such, but even then it’s on a browser installed on a Virtual Machine (VM) I have set up, whose only purpose in life is to do SEO research. The VM is configured with Chrome and a number of SEO extensions installed.

There is good reason for this, Google now deploys hidden trackers on 76% of websites across the web to monitor your behaviour and Facebook has hidden trackers on about 25% of websites, according to the Princeton Web Transparency & Accountability Project

I really don’t see the need, or can even warrant it, that all this information is only needed in order to provide me with a better advertising experience. This can only lead to bad experiences in general.

Summary

You don’t have to a be a tin foil hat wearing loony isolationist to want to take your online privacy seriously. In my opinion it is the right of any individual to want to keep some things private.

There are some searches on the internet that individuals do want to keep private, they may not necessarily be of a sensitive nature, but they still don’t want the world and especially advertisers to know.

In my opinion, privacy should be the default, and you should only ever be asked if you want to be tracked. The only way I have found to do this is to start by using DuckDuckGo as your search engine.

Gary Woodfine

Technical Director at Denizon
Gary is Technical Director at Denizon, an independent software vendor specialising in IoT, Field Service and associated managed services,enabling customers to be efficient, productive, secure and scalable in a way which helps them address and reduce their ecological impact.

Denizon's product line successfully integrate IoT, Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain technology to enable efficient, productive, secure and scalable solutions to help organisations address increasing energy demands, ecological impact and Health & Safety concerns of their staff.

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