So ddg is down, so I visit Google. It’s been some years.

I just can’t believe how poor it’s results are, and how it’s trying to suggest things it think I might also want (and failing miserably).

I just assumed ddg would be the lesser, but I use it for privacy. Turns out I’m wrong.

How long has Google been this bad?

  • mad_asshatter@lemmy.world
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    I just assumed ddg would be the lesser, but I use it for privacy. Turns out I’m wrong.

    If you’re using DDG for privacy, then indeed you are wrong.

    It may be “less invasive” than google, but it’s neither anonymous, nor private.

    Here’s a bunch more reasons from techrights.org, a site dedicated to digital freedom and exposing corruption.

    Direct privacy abuse:

    DDG was caught violating its own privacy policy by issuing tracker cookies.

    DDG’s app sends every URL you visit to DDG servers. (reaction).

    DDG is currently collecting users’ operating systems and everything they highlight in the search results. (to verify this, simply hit F12 in your browser and select the “network” tab. Do a search with javascript enabled. Highlight some text on the screen. Mouseover the traffic rows and see that your highlighted text, operating system, and other details relating to geolocation are sent to DDG. Then change the query and submit. Notice that the previous query is being transmitted with the new query to link the queries together)

    DDG is accused of fingerprinting users’ browsers.

    When clicking an ad on the DDG results page, all data available in your session is sent to the advertiser, which is why the Epic browser project refuses to set DDG as the default browser.

    DDG blacklisted Framabee, a search engine for the highly respected framasoft.org consortium."

    CloudFlare:

    DDG promotes one of the largest privacy abusing tech giants and adversary to the Tor community: CloudFlare Inc. DDG results give high rankings to CloudFlare sites, which consequently compromises privacy, net neutrality, and anonymity.

    Full article: http://techrights.org/2020/07/02/ddg-privacy-abuser-in-disguise/

    ETA: The bulk of the text in my reply was lifted from a reddit comment. I tried to format my comment to reflect that it’s a “quote”, alas I’ve failed. Hence this.

    Also, I don’t have a card in this game. I understand anonymity and privacy - I dislike intentional deception.

          • elvith@discuss.tchncs.de
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            29 days ago

            Its searxng now (the original searx is dead) and is quite good. Performance differs. I’ve seen very slow instances, but when I started hosting my own semi-private instance, I saw how fast it can be, if the server isn’t a potato.

        • JetpackJackson@feddit.de
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          29 days ago

          Do you ever have moments where you type something to search into the address bar and you just get taken to the instance home page? That happens to me every now and then and I’m wondering if it’s the instance I’m using

          • Mr. Camel999@programming.dev
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            29 days ago

            I have not experienced this, no. Unsure as to what that could be, but if another instance doesn’t cause that issue that would be a good sign that it is the current instance you’re on.

        • clearedtoland@lemmy.world
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          I can’t justify Kagi’s pricing but I liked it. I’d blow through the cheapest plan in a week. Neeva was pretty good too before they pivoted, also pricey imo though.

          • walden@sub.wetshaving.social
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            I blew through the $5 plan in a short amount of time. I’m a curious person, I guess! I really like it though so decided $120/year was worth it for unlimited.

            Compared to DDG (Bing) the search results are really good. When using DDG I would frequently revert to Google, but not with Kagi.

            • Alk@lemmy.world
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              29 days ago

              Same. I work and play at my computer, so I certainly get my use out of it. I wouldn’t pay for it if both my work and my hobbies weren’t both on my PC.

          • Alk@lemmy.world
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            29 days ago

            I haven’t touched the ai feature, I’m glad its separate and not forced into search, but I’m also glad people seem to be getting good use out of it. Best of both worlds.

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        29 days ago

        If you have spare hardware lying around and a public IP (or a server anyway), you can selfhost SearXNG.
        If you’re fine with paying 12$/month (with tax) for a customizable search engine, very accurate and transparently sourced/quoted LLM, and just a better index than any other search engine I know, use Kagi. I heard some rumors and bad things, but nothing to do with privacy, only the aforementioned tax.
        And for a free search engine which claims privacy and is an alternative to DDG, with its own index afaik, Brave.

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          Kagi is anything but private friendly. Their CEO claims only criminals actually want anonymity.

          They also think they don’t need pay taxes or to abide by GDPR if they invent their own definitions of the laws.

          https://d-shoot.net/kagi.html

          • 30p87@feddit.de
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            29 days ago

            This is an article often quoted, which makes it seem like it’s a kind of consensus. Yet one of the main points, taxes, can just be disproven by reading the Kagi FAQ about it. Find it by searching “Kagi inc tax” on any search engine, like Kagi itself. Or just https://help.kagi.com/kagi/faq/sales-tax-vat.html.

            We weren’t initially required to collect sales tax/VAT until reaching certain thresholds, typically defined by the number of customers in a jurisdiction or sales volume.

            And sooo many other things in this article are purely based on assumptions, incorrect data and misquotes. This personal blog is exactly none better than your average hustle-finance-nazi-bro podcast, in almost all terms (except political views).

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              Misquotes? There are literally screenshots in the article showing full quotes, I don’t know who are you trying to lie to…

              And just because Kagi put some text on their website doesn’t make it true.
              Taxes don’t work like that (at least not VAT) and you’re a fool for trusting a company which tried to commit a fraud.

              Some EU countries do have tax exemptions for small businesses, which Kagi isn’t by any definition.

              Anyway, that sure didn’t take long for you to prove Godwin’s law, huh?

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          28 days ago

          How are SearXNG results? I tried a self hosted yacy instance, but its results are pre-AltaVista bad.

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            28 days ago

            So is Mojeek a standalone since it’s yellow? It looks like a lot of other people use them and not the other way around. Yep is cool, but I think they get their money from the sites that pay them? I looked at it yesterday, it’s sort of a strange set up that I’m not sure I understand.

              • pelespirit@sh.itjust.works
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                25 days ago

                Mojeek gives good results, I’ll keep trying it. I’m not sure about yep though, how do the people get paid? I didn’t see any sign up. It sounds like it’s a platform for their SEO subscribers.

        • LemmyHead@lemmy.ml
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          29 days ago

          I have good experience with brave search, after I moved away from the crap Qwant actually is

          • CALIGVLA@lemmy.dbzer0.com
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            29 days ago

            Qwant is that bad? I remember hearing decent things about it a few years ago but I never got around to trying it because it’s blocked in my country for some god forsaken reason.

            • LemmyHead@lemmy.ml
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              That’s exactly one of the reasons why I find it shit. It’s not blocked in my country but as soon I need to go abroad, can’t use it anymore. There’s more reasons why it sucks and some of them are recent

            • LemmyHead@lemmy.ml
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              That’s exactly one of the reasons why I find it shit. It’s not blocked in my country but as soon I need to go abroad, can’t use it anymore. There’s more reasons why it sucks and some of them are recent

        • Mojeek@lemmy.ml
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          and when people let us know where we fall down we’re able to make it better, growing alongside the userbase!

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      Do they “give high rankings” to CloudFlare sites because they just boost up whoever is behind CloudFlare, or because the sites happen to be good search hits, maybe that load quickly, and they don’t go in and penalize them for… telling CloudFlare that you would like them to send you the page when you go to the site?

      Counting the number of times results for different links are clicked is expected search engine behavior. Recording what search strings are sent from results pages for what other search strings is also probably fine, and because of the way forms and referrers work (the URL of the page you searched from has the old query in it) the page’s query will be sent in the referrer by all browsers by default even if the site neither wanted it nor intends to record it. Recording what text is highlighted is weird, but probably not a genuine threat.

      The remote favicon fetch design in their browser app was fixed like 4 years ago.

      The “accusation” of “fingerprinting” was along the lines of “their site called a canvas function oh no”. It’s not “fingerprinting” every time someone tries to use a canvas tag.

      What exactly is “all data available in my session” when I click on an ad? Is it basically the stuff a site I go to can see anyway? Sounds like it’s nothing exciting or some exciting pieces of data would be listed.

      This analysis misses the important point that none of this stuff is getting cross-linked to user identities or profiles. The problem with Google isn’t that they examine how their search results pages are interacted with in general or that they count Linux users, it’s that they keep a log of what everyone individually is searching, specifically. Not doing that sounds “anonymous” to me, even if it isn’t Tor-strength anonymity that’s resistant to wiretaps.

      There’s an important difference between “we’re trying to not do surveillance capitalism but as a centralized service data still comes to our servers to actually do the service, and we don’t boycott all of CloudFlare, AWS, Microsoft, Verizon, and Yahoo”, as opposed to “we’re building shadow profiles of everyone for us and our 1,437 partners”. And I feel like you shouldn’t take privacy advice from someone who hosts it unencrypted.

      • Greg Clarke@lemmy.ca
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        I’m running a search instance on a VPS so my home IP isn’t linked to my searches. The main disadvantage is that my VPS is in Toronto and I live 2hrs away so geo searches don’t work very well. For instance, if I Google “restaurants” I get results for local restaurants whereas if I Gregle (I named my search engine Gregle) I get results for results near my VPS.

        DM me if you want a link to my instance to check it out. It’s open but I don’t publicize it because bad actors could ruin my IP addresses reputation with spam queries via the API.

      • evasive_chimpanzee@lemmy.world
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        29 days ago

        I recently learned about it, but haven’t used it. From what I understand, it’s similar to how the fediverse works; individual instances are run by whoever wants to run them. If you run your own instance, you have complete trust in it, but you effectively aren’t anonymous (unless you support a whole bunch of users to pool together. If you join someone else’s instance, you have to trust them. There’s public and private instances.

        The other downside is that, like many other small players, they are a metasearch engine, so they rely on the big players like Google and Bing who actually crawl the web for information to index. If Google or Bing want to hide information, that trickles down into metasearch engines, too. It’s somewhat buffered by thr fact that your metasearch can look through a whole bunch of different indexes, so you aren’t held to one countries censorship, but it probably still has an effect.

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      Also as DDG is based in the US it is most likely legally bound to give your informations to any agency with a nice gag order on top of it.

      I can’t imagine any serious privacy oriented business to be headquartered in the US.

      The whole better privacy is true with DDG but certainly not to the extent people would like to think.

      That being said DDG has decent search results and is slightly better than Google for privacy. Google is an ecosystem so every little bit you don’t give them is a success.

      It’s really too bad we don’t have good private search engines…

    • flubo@feddit.de
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      Thanks for sharing - didnt know. Thats a long list … So which search engine is good and privacy friendly then?

      • Breezy@lemmy.world
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        Honestly thats like the most annoying thing about lemmy. Or maybe its just sync. But still damn annoying.

        • can@sh.itjust.works
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          Just check the web ui and it appears it’s part of Lemmy.

          TESTING

          TEST

          Edit: Sync doesn’t seem to require one added to blank new lines but Lemmy does.

    • Baku@aussie.zone
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      28 days ago

      Not to be dismissive, but if you deconstruct every website like this, won’t they all look horrible? I mean how long would Google’s list be if you detailed every single controversy and dodgy thing they’ve done in/to/from their search engine?

    • Sam_Bass@lemmy.ml
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      They also do ranked search like google, although not as bad but i think that is just a factor of age. Actual search term is often 5th or more down page

  • OpenStars@discuss.online
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    For many years now, almost the only way to find tech-related answers was to add the word “reddit” to your search. Before the Rexodus ofc.

    Nowadays a lot of people go straight to where they wanted to find info - Wikipedia, StackOverflow, IMDB, etc. - and search from there.

    Google itself has admitted how bad it has gotten, and in response they decided to voluntarily reduce their profits and return everything back to when it all worked… - no I’m just kidding, they said wait a bit and AI will save us all, somehow (from ourselves?).

    • dan@upvote.au
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      Nowadays a lot of people go straight to where they wanted to find info - Wikipedia, StackOverflow, IMDB, etc. - and search from there.

      Didn’t people always do this, though? If I want to find something on Wikipedia, why wouldn’t I search on Wikipedia for it? I have Firefox configured so that it searches Wikipedia when I type “wiki” then a space then the search query.

      • OpenStars@discuss.online
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        Okay but do you also do that for StackOverflow? And if so, then also for IMDB, and everything else? Google invested heavy effort to get people to not even remember or bookmark URLs - simply type “Wikipedia” into the bar and it would do a quick search to translate that into something, perhaps https://www.wikipedia.org/ or even https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page. Later, browsers started allowing other ways like searching through your locally stored bookmarks, but that doesn’t change how Google pushed heavily and first towards being your one-stop place to find what you want just by thinking about it and typing a word or two. Their summaries of movies I find far superior to IMDB, and even to Wikipedia, if all I want is like the most famous movie or two from a particular actor/actress to think - “oh, that’s where I know them from!”

        You resisted that trend, which was inefficient, and introduced another dependency of Google to something that did not need it in the chain of finding results that you expected to be found on Wikipedia, so good on you. But not everyone did that.

        Likewise, adding “Reddit” to a query added another purpose: if you knew you wanted a search result from Reddit specifically, then finding it via Google was far easier than trying to use Reddit’s internal search, which remains extremely poorly implemented. A lot of places use Google searches internally, and if not then they rely on Google externally, to help find content in them. And why not, bc Google “wasn’t evil”, unlike e.g. Microsoft or questionably (at the time) Apple? So bc everything tied back to Google regardless, why not get the full Google experience? Or so I imagine the thinking went.

        But no, I don’t think “people” meaning “everyone” already went straight to where they wanted to search, and even those of us who did (I also most often went straight to Wikipedia, depending on what I was searching for, bc it has fairly good internal search capabilities) did not do it for everything or even perhaps for most things - the latter measured as width of categorizations as in breadth of variety of info - even if not numerically as in “most searches performed”. Google was extremely prominent and central for most people, especially those who did not think about how prominent and central it had become.

      • TenderfootGungi@lemmy.world
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        28 days ago

        Nope. People Google everything. Want to visit Amazon? Most people Google Amazon to get there. URL bars that search are handy but likely emphasize this behavior.

  • Carighan Maconar@lemmy.world
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    I just can’t believe how poor it’s results are

    Interesting, as the incredibly poor results are why I am still not using DDG. It’s like a worse Bing, and Bing is already terrible.

    You are btw correct that Google results have gotten worse. There were studies run that confirmed this. The very same studies found that Bing (and by extension ~all third-party engines) have also gotten worse, and faster so than Google. In other words, search as a whole has gone to shit, which anecdotally matches up with my repeated attempts to swap to DDG every 6-12 months that just result in learning to add !g to every single search, so I might as well skip doing that.

    • TrickDacy@lemmy.world
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      Your take matches my experience perfectly. I always am baffled when people say Google is worse than ddg. I always wanted to use ddg instead, but try as I might, on a literal daily basis, at least 30% ddg results are trash and I have to switch to Google to find whatever I am looking for

      • ayaya@lemdro.id
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        That’s my experience as well. Now I use a SearXNG instance with Google as the only source and it works well I’d say roughly 97% of the time.

      • jpeps@lemmy.world
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        I’m pretty sure it’s just trendy to call Google search shit, and to criticise the top product. I’m also pretty sure DDG is just uses Bing search under the hood (plus it’s privacy features), so I always thought these complaints were quite funny. The ads on Google are probably the most aggressive though, which IMO is the worst part.

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    Funny fact: google’s newest feature is also its best, but it’s kinda hidden and might not be available everywhere - it’s “web search”, which cuts out all the awful bullshit

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    29 days ago

    Google is great if you want to buy things. It’s absolutely shit for information gathering.

    • multifariace@lemmy.world
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      It used to be great for information if you included reddit in the search terms. Instead of google learning from reddit, reddit is now full of ads and bots. I guess google apps will be complete garbage soon too.

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      Id argue it’s also shit for buying things because it will only give you products with paid ads. It’s useless to discover adjacent products or finding different sources.

      • Microw@lemm.ee
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        And in web search when searching for a product it gives you dozens of “product tests” pages that are actually paid SEO articles. No, that page that shares a name with a newspaper has not actually tested what the best dishwasher in 2024 is.

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        I don’t think Google can be beat when it comes to searching local businesses, but otherwise you might as well go straight to Wikipedia.

  • AnUnusualRelic@lemmy.world
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    It started when Search Engine Optimisation became a thing, so it’s been a while. But it really went downhill a few years ago.

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    I’ve found Google alternatives great for things that are… filtered (copyright etc), but honestly no matter what search engine I use, I swear none just give you the results for your query anymore. I’ve still been finding the Bing-based ones horrible quality for relevancy and defaulting to Google.

    • Scrollone@feddit.it
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      Maybe it’s not only a search engine problem, but a content problem. There’s less and less useful content on the web nowadays

      • Baguette@lemm.ee
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        Ehh I wouldn’t say so. There’s still plenty of good content around, especially if you’re trying to learn. The issue is that there’s also a lot of bad content, a lot from garbage ai generated nonsense and a lot from low quality content that plays the seo manipulation game.

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    i have the opposite problem. ive aways had to go back to google becasue DDG sucks so hard… and now i find out its because its bing-based. awesome.

    • exscape@kbin.social
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      Same here. I switched to DDG last year, but had to go back within two weeks; it was just too annoying.
      Google search results have indeed gotten pretty bad, b