replaced google search with @duckduckgo

Software update told me that it’s my turn to update to firefox 34. I read earlier that yahoo will replace google as the default search engine on firefox 34 and I was curious to see if that was the case for me.

Surprisingly, no. That’s because I have the always google.com in english plug-in and I use searchbar autosizer to customise other aspects of the search bar.

If firefox had forced me to default to yahoo, I would have changed it. If it wouldn’t let me change, I would have switched to chrome immediately. I remember using yahoo when I first started on the internet, that was before google existed. I haven’t used it for a long time, only when there’s a problem with google. And lately I’ve positively hated yahoo, it never respects my location preference: even if I type yahoo.com manually it forces me to go to the local site, in a language I can’t stand to read and displaying stuff I’m not interested in. Even if I type yahoo.com/ncr, the preference disappears after I click around and go back to the homepage. Ridiculous.

I’ve noticed google doing the same. Even with the add-on that’s supposed to force google.com, it brings me search results on the local site. And changes the url of sites like blogger and youtube to force me to the localised version. It is not an enhanced experience. It is lack of respect of people’s preference.

And makes it so obvious that I’m being tracked, and my data used for marketing. Targeted ads don’t work on me though, I’m very tightly defended by adblock plus.

I switched search engines. I’ve been using duckduckgo for a couple of weeks and I’m pretty happy with the switch. There are many good things about duckduckgo, primarily it’s about privacy, as fastcompany pointed out:

When you do a search from DuckDuckGo’s website or one of its mobile apps, it doesn’t know who you are. There are no user accounts. Your IP address isn’t logged by default. The site doesn’t use search cookies to keep track of what you do over time or where else you go online. It doesn’t save your search history. When you click on a link in DuckDuckGo’s results, those websites won’t see which search terms you used.

No wonder its usage has skyrocketed after the Snowden affair. Although my searches aren’t confidental or sensitive, I’m still happy that I have privacy. That little toggle button on the right that enables me to turn off region, that’s what I like. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

It looks simple and the results are straightforward. When I searched for gameboy, it brings me first to the official site (something that sometimes ad-driven google doesn’t do) then it’s wikipedia, amazon and ebay—pretty much the expected results. For specific results on a specific site, I just have to add !site in front of my search. So

!amazon gameboy

brings me directly to the amazon search results for gameboy, saving one click. This is only one of a bunch of cool features available.

Of course, it’s not perfect. Search results tend to deteriorate after half a page to weird sites. For more complicated searches I’ve had to go back to google. There is no image search, news article search, map or other google features. Recipe searches bring me to US sites rather than my preferred bbc and UK sites (one advantage of google’s tracking I suppose). These are minor inconvenience, I can live with using duckduckgo for the majority and reverted to google when necessary.

Plus, it’s been blocked behind the great firewall of China, there’s no better endorsement than that.