Hack Hack Go



I want to make Duck Duck Go a better search engine for programmers like me. If you're a programmer, I'd appreciate your feedback and ideas.

Duck Duck Go is intended to be a general purpose search engine and that isn't going to change. Our user base certainly reflects this purpose, i.e. is quite varied on every metric I've tried to measure.

Yet there are certain search niches like casual research where Duck Duck Go really excels. I'd like programming to be one of those areas.

To that end, here's what I've got so far.

  • A general search engine. The good news here is I know a lot of programmers who use it as their primary search engine. It works and (at least some) people really like it. I'm always willing to add new features whose absence are preventing people from switching. Currently on that list are some maps and images.

  • Zero-click Info. There are red boxes above links on some searches with info you can get without clicking, i.e. on-site. We have a lot of info that is specific to programming topics. Of course we have Wikipedia, e.g. Dijkstra's algorithm. But I've also added software sources, i.e. github, freshmeat, download.com, versiontracker, and sourceforge.

  • Category pages. I've mined sources to create to useful topic lists for browsing/learning, e.g. Search Algorithms.

  • Disambiguation pages. I've created pages to help you isolate programming topics in common query terms, e.g. cookie links to HTTP cookie, which has results more geared toward that meaning. There are also programming specific disambiguation pages, e.g. nearest neighbor.

  • Crowd-sourced links. I also mine links from crowd-sources sites, e.g. coroutine.

  • Wikipedia paragraphs. I've deep-indexed Wikipedia at the paragraph level. You don't have to match a topic nearly exactly anymore to get some Zero-click Info, e.g. python switch statement. This is way more than a regular search index, as it is sub-section/section/title aware and uses some NLP for relevancy. I hope to make that matching algorithm even more sophisticated over time.

  • Bang. There are a few hundred !x shortcuts that can be used, e.g. !cpan Net::DNS

Here's what I'm thinking of doing.

  • O'Reilly Paragraphs. I think it would be awesome if I could index all O'Reilly books at the paragraph level, like I've done for Wikipedia. This content is well-written, encyclopedia-like, is largely in paragraph form, and has surrounding contextual information (section titles, etc.) that will make the relevance matching excellent. Problem is, I don't know anyone at O'Reilly. I think it's a win-win because it can link right to their Safari product or individual book pages. And I don't think it canabalise Safari because you're getting people in a very different context (when searching). Anyway, I thought I'd start by writing them an email. I did that and haven't heard back yet.

  • More topic sources. I'm going to add man/info pages, so you can type in a command and get a description. I could also do packages for distributions/languages in a similar manner if people think that would be useful to them. I've explored indexing these at the paragraph level, but the content doesn't seem to work well for that purpose. Other, more general sources, may be incidentally useful to programmers like Amazon product descriptions. I'd love your thoughts here.

  • Bang documentation. The current bang commands aren't documented. I'll document them as well as add more that are useful to programmers. Any you want?

  • Zero-click Info by IM. I'm thinking of making a chatbot that will respond to you via IM with Zero-click Info (and links). So you send it a search query and we'll send you back a description along with a few links. Would you use that?

  • API integration. I wrote the Perl binding for Wolfram Alpha. I'm exploring ways to use it to integrate good WA content. I'm open to using other APIs, but I'd strongly prefer to get dumps instead so I can ensure speed. Another one I'd like to integrate for programmers is ErrorHelp.com (previously bug.gd).

That's where I'm at right now. If you're a programmer, my questions for you are:

  1. Do you find the above compelling?

  2. Do you have any particular feedback/ideas?
Feel free to comment below, on HN, on reddit, or email me directly.


If you have comments, hit me up on Twitter.
I'm the Founder & CEO of DuckDuckGo, the search engine that doesn't track you. I'm also the co-author of Traction, the book that helps you get customer growth. More about me.