April 28th, 2016

DuckDuckGo Wants Answers to Linux Questions

The search engine that works to protect your privacy is looking for some Linux “Instant Answers” for programmers. Would they like some answers to everyday Linux questions as well?

DuckDuckGo, the search engine centered around privacy, is asking for the community’s help in improving its results for Linux related searches. On Wednesday, “Bill” with the Philidelphia based search engine company posted to the Linux subreddit asking for help from the community.

DuckDuckGo logo“DuckDuckGo’s focus is to become the best search engine for programmers,” Bill wrote, “and we’d love your help improving our open-source Linux Instant Answers. There’s currently a couple of cheat sheets here and here. We want to get some great feedback from the Reddit community for the developer, crashrane.”

Crashrane is the GitHub username for Mihir Rane, who contributes to the DuckDuckGo repository.

Although the Reddit post addresses programmers specifically, we are assuming that Instant Answers to non-programming Linux questions would also be welcome. FOSS Force has reached out via email to DuckDuckGo to get clarification on this, but so far we haven’t received a reply. In the same email, we also inquired into the vetting process for the answers supplied.

The Instant Answers feature displays answers at the top of a search page, with answers being culled from third party APIs or static sources such as text files. DuckDuckGo calls these answers “zeroclickinfo,” as they are seen as supplying a search result that doesn’t require the user to click through to another website and then have to seek to find the information on the page. Instant Answers are open source and are maintained on GitHub.

Here at FOSS Force, we spent some time asking search questions in an attempt to trigger an Instant Answer for a screenshot but were unsuccessful. This isn’t surprising, since according to Wikipedia, on February 14 there were only 718 active Instant Answers.

If DuckDuckGo is interested in supplying answers to everyday support questions that Linux users may have, and if the answers are vetted for accuracy, this could be a valuable service waiting to be harnessed.

5 comments to DuckDuckGo Wants Answers to Linux Questions

  • Sam

    I love duckduckgo, I use it as my default on everything. I love how the url is so short (ddg.gg)…But I think I just hate google and am happy to have an alternative mostly.

  • Anonymous

    For an example of an instant answer, try searching for “man xargs”; you’ll get a summary of xargs command-line options directly at the top of the page, along with a link to a manpage.

  • Anonymous

    That’ s a nice but useless example imo. Most of the time that I’d need to know the command-line options for xargs, I’d already be at a terminal where I could just type man xargs, instead of switching to a browser. Not to mention the actual man pages have more info.

    The one use case I could really see this taking off for is for displaying common usage examples, where man falls dreadfully short.
    e.g.
    http://www.thegeekstuff.com/2013/12/xargs-examples/
    http://www.cyberciti.biz/faq/linux-unix-bsd-xargs-construct-argument-lists-utility/

  • Hi!

    Bill from DuckDuckGo here. I never saw an email from you guys come through. If you want, feel free to email me- bill @duckduckgo . com.

    thanks!

  • Mike

    I’ve been using DuckDuckGo for years now and can’t even remember the last time I used Google to find something.

    I second the idea of common usage examples.

    It annoys me no end when I search for how to do something, either using a program or related to programming, only to find a sterile definition or list of arguments that provides no help for the actual task at hand.

    Usage examples can also help someone realize potential uses of a tool that may not have occurred to them.