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DuckDuckGo 2015: A year in review

DuckDuckGo friends,

Looking back on 2015 it's been an incredible year both in terms of DuckDuckGo's growth and the improvements that have been added to the search engine. As always, a huge part of these accomplishments are thanks to you, the DuckDuckGo community, who amaze us with your support, feedback and contributions.

Product plans for 2016 include adding time and date filters to our search results, improving the "Did You Mean" feature, and making it easier for developers to contribute so that many more useful and fun Instant Answers can continue to be added.

More broadly, we plan to continue to strive for more respect of privacy on the internet, instilling trust in our services and supporting initiatives that protect the interests of users around the world.

Avatar of Gabriel WeinbergIn the meantime, enjoy this review of our highlights of 2015. A big THANK YOU for joining us on this journey and we wish you all a very happy new year!


Search in 2015

Over the past year we've made an effort to improve the search experience for non-English speaking users, part of which is the addition of Wikipedia summaries for many queries. Altogether over 30 million entries have been added in Czech, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Norwergian (Bokmål), Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, and Ukrainian. We hope to expand this to even more languages in future. We also added Instant Answers for sports fans so you can now get live MLB and NFL scores, and mobile users got a new version of the DuckDuckGo app for both Android and iOS.

Developers who contribute Instant Answers now get well-deserved attribution — just click on the "i" icon to see more information about any Instant Answer. 2015 also saw the much-requested filtering images by size and the addition of a feedback button through which we started to receive helpful comments almost immediately. Look out for more improvements over the coming months based on this feedback.

DuckDuckHack in 2015

The DuckDuckHack meetup in Kochi, India

It was a busy year for our growing development community with outstanding contributions from developers worldwide such as mintsoft, MrChrisW and many others. We also enjoyed increased activity in our meetup groups — the Philadelphia group has now held six events while the Bangalore group recently exceeded an incredible 1,000 members! Speaking of meetups, one of the highlights of the year was a 24-hour global Quack and Hack event in August. Developers from all parts of the world came together not just to code but to learn and have fun together. We're going to build on its success by holding a second global Quack and Hack in January. To prepare for this we've been working hard rewriting our documentation, adding new video tutorials and redesigning duckduckhack.com, including an online tool to simplify the Instant Answer creation process.

This was also the year when we open-sourced nearly all of our frontend code such as the Litestrap framework, Instant Answer templates and helpers, and common styling elements. In addition we saw great uptake of new templates and a cheat sheet format meaning some Instant Answers can now be created with just a single JSON file. You can try out these and other new Instant Answers in the pipeline on the DuckDuckGo beta server which we opened for anyone to explore.

Beyond the Web

For several years now we've been making an annual contribution to various open source projects. After asking for nominations from our users, this year we donated a total of $125,000 to share equally between The Freedom of the Press Foundation to support SecureDrop, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) to support PrivacyBadger, GPGTools to support GPG Suite, Riseup to support Tails, and to Girl Develop It (GDI) to support their Open Source Mentorship program.

We also support efforts outside the open source community and this year we worked with the EFF to promote a new "Do Not Track" standard for web browsers as well as signing on to the Acceptable Ads Manifesto which supports our belief that users deserve non-intrustive ads on the web.

In Numbers

Chart showing DuckDuckGo's growth since 2011

And how about a few statistics to round off our review? In 2015 DuckDuckGo turned seven years old with a total of 20 developer meetup groups. They and many other contributors brought the total of Instant Answers to over 660, and suggestions from users helped to increase our bang search shortcuts to over 7,500! Finally, the growth we saw throughout the year culminated in hitting over 12 million direct searches in one day in December. Wow! It'll be an exciting ride to see if we can beat that in 2016...