An Update on !bangs Syntax

Jag Staff Jag
Created: 4 years and 21 days ago • Updated: 4 years and 12 days ago
Hello, everyone!

One of our most beloved features, !bangs, is getting a small update. !bangs are shortcuts that begin with an exclamation point '!', and they allow you to directly search on other websites. For example, typing "!amazon shoes" will take you to Amazon.com's search results for "shoes".

Currently, this works with an exclamation point at the end of a !bang such as amazon!, wikipedia!, and yt!. But as our list of !bangs grows, it causes issues with searches that inadvertently contain an exclamation point, e.g., "OMG! Ubuntu!" or "Die, Monster, Die!"

Recently, our feedback channels have indicated that these situations are far more accidental than intended, which wasn't the case in past attempts to make the same change.

And so, we will soon be disabling the ability to use an exclamation point at the end of a !bang. If you have any feedback or questions, leave us a comment below!

Update:

Hi, everyone! We reverted the change, and now queries such as 'discombobulate t!' now work. We'll be making it stricter in the coming days, though, so that people don't accidentally trigger the bangs. For example, words that end in exclamation points such as 'Japanese from Zero!' won't work anymore.

Thank you for all your feedback!

This forum has been archived

Thank you all for the many comments, questions and suggestions. Particular thanks go to user x.15a2 for constantly monitoring, replying and helping so many users here. To continue these discussions, please head over to the DuckDuckGo subreddit.


anonymous
This is going to get A LOT of getting used to. I Specifically registered on the site to see what was going on with all the bangs.... -_-

And I use them sooo much.....
posted by <hidden> • 4 years and 20 days ago Link
anonymous
Same here, my tought process was like :

1) looking for a book
2) write the book name
3) though about amazon
4) remember about the bang system

ended up writing "a book amazon!"

but i guess we could get used to that :)
posted by <hidden> • 4 years and 19 days ago Link
x.15a2
Thanks for your understanding as to why this change was necessary. It may not be clear from the examples provided, but all that you need to do is move the ! from the end to the beginning of the bang keyword.

In your example, the change is as simple as "a book !amazon". Hopefully that simplifies things a bit.
posted by x.15a2 Community Leader4 years and 19 days ago Link
esrimkorfez
Okay, I understand why the change was necessary, but

1) Was it necessary for all !bangs? i.e. OMG! and Ubuntu! would only work as a !bang with exclamation mark in the beginning, but what is so accidental about w! or a! or gsc!

2) This is more important: Please announce it on the main page https://duckduckgo.com/ right away, because 2 hrs ago I submitted this as a bug.

I love DDG by the way, with or without the !bangs, but please communicate with us for such changes.

All the best,
esrim
posted by esrimkorfez 4 years and 19 days ago Link
anonymous
Yep, exactly my thoughts. How hard can it be to recognize something like w!

Plus I had to delve into these forums to find out why exactly my firefox ddg extension was broken.

I used to just use googles "I'm feeling lucky" in the address bar like "book I'm looking for amazon" and it would take me straight to the correct page. DDG used to do the exact same thing with just a simple ! added at the end, but on so many more sites :(
posted by <hidden> • 4 years and 19 days ago Link
anonymous
Of course but we need to change habits and that's hard. Plus as it has been said below: "Punctuation at the end of a sentence is (the only) natural way to do this".
posted by <hidden> • 4 years and 18 days ago Link
buckeye
but this is computer language not a sentence, just like this:
$server_name = (!empty($_SERVER['HTTP_HOST']))

with computers its common to type characters that are otherwise used for punctuation or symbols differently than in standard text for example when typing a website url like duckduckgo.com maybe someone doesn't like that period before com, it's more natural at the end, so there should be a setting for that!

still hard to believe that this is an issue at all


posted by buckeye 4 years and 18 days ago Link
anonymous
Yep ...It's hard to believe but human and computer don't work the same way.
posted by <hidden> • 4 years and 18 days ago Link
anonymous
ohhhhhh.........
I might (might be able to do that)
I thought we were limited to bang! + seacrch
but if it is search + !bang, it might be a little more natural...

now that I know this, I will try it for a few more days and see how it goes...
posted by <hidden> • 4 years and 16 days ago Link
Jag
The !bangs are still there! But because a lot of queries have '!' after the word + our !bangs are constantly growing, it could lead to a lot of confusion as to why the user got redirected to another site.

Apologies for the hassle!
posted by Jag Staff4 years and 19 days ago Link
esrimkorfez
Jag, please announce this on the https://duckduckgo.com/
posted by esrimkorfez 4 years and 19 days ago Link
anonymous
100% agree. I registered just to post this. While I'm sure I can get used to flipping the !, it will take some getting used to for sure. I thought the plugin was busted and had to search.

This should be mentioned somewhere prominently, if even only a link to the announcement, so that people don't think their plugin is wonky or that their browser is jacked.
posted by <hidden> • 4 years and 18 days ago Link
buckeye
I don't get it, why is this even an issue? it's always been called !bangs the bangs page lists all of them as !bangname with no reference to doing it any other way. The reason for the change has been fully explained and it's reasonable and makes other searches more accurate. such a small change, not worth the complaints.
posted by buckeye 4 years and 18 days ago Link
anonymous
Because individuals hate change especially in their typing habits; search with bang! became part of a quick process now there is a new one to implement. It's not easy even though it's rational to do so.
posted by <hidden> • 4 years and 18 days ago Link
zac
We're going to take another look at what we can do to ease this up a bit. Sorry for the hassle thus far.
posted by zac Staff4 years and 16 days ago Link
anonymous
Oh, that is fine. Actually, once I realized that you can put !bangs after your search query, it made it a lot easier for me personally, but it does seem like there are others in here that might still like the other way...
posted by <hidden> • 4 years and 16 days ago Link
esrimkorfez
Dear Zac and Jag,

I see that you again reverted the change: !bangs work just the way they were, both before or after the word. And that's okay, we like it experimental.

But I must insist on my comment, please announce changes on the main page or note at the top of the results if the change is likely to affect everyone.

And a suggestion: see the many newcomers just to give feedback on this --including myself. Why not to pilot and survey these changes before switching back and forth, instead of 'big data'? For one, I use both the add-on/extension and the app (which makes me a 'fan' I think :)

Keep up the good work, and thanks!
posted by esrimkorfez 4 years and 12 days ago Link
Jag
Yes, that's another path that we were thinking about, but we thought we should just make the old syntax work but with a few minor tweaks. I made an update to the post above that explains it in detail!
posted by Jag Staff4 years and 12 days ago Link
anonymous
I registered just to complain about this. Punctuation at the end of a sentence is the only natural way to do this, eg. "Brooklyn nine nine w!", you're going against a lot of muscle memory here and that can't be a usability improvement. For me, this is broken and I might as well switch back to google - at least it worked as expected...

Speaking from a programming point of view, it's easy enough to detect certain special words like OMG! Ubuntu! as being distinct from w!, yt! or auk!. Do you have no phrase detection?
posted by <hidden> • 4 years and 19 days ago Link
anonymous
I'd like to say that the previous way worked better because if I wanted to go to amazon.. I would write amazon (liked I used to before duckduckgo) or a followed by an exclamation mark! Then my search. Now... I might as well type a, then click on the suggestion that pops up for amazon.com , then do my search..

And I also think that not all bangs needed to be switched... Unless this is a software limitation.. which is probably not the case, since software limitations is only limited by the human brain and since imagination can be unlimited, I suppose someone could fix this to work with both bangs! and !bangs...

On a last note, I don't think it is a good idea to get a huge number of users used to a way of doings things, then switch it completely around..

Another idea could be doing your search plus @bang --- not sure if that would be a good idea though, but it seems like it would be natural to search that way...
posted by <hidden> • 4 years and 16 days ago Link
buckeye
Quote:
On a last note, I don't think it is a good idea to get a huge number of users used to a way of doings things, then switch it completely around..
except that the reverse is true-ddg never officially support the way you were doing it which is why they have always been called !bangs and never call bangs!. so it was some users that decided to do it in switched order.

Quote:
Another idea could be doing your search plus @bang --- not sure if that would be a good idea though, but it seems like it would be natural to search that way...
in both printing and computer industries the exclamation mark is called a bang - hence the name of this function - so replacing the bang with the "at" - or atpersand - symbol would be nonsensical

by the way - how do you do bangs on the other 2 search engines

still hard to believe that this is an issue at all
posted by buckeye 4 years and 16 days ago Link
anonymous
I see.. well I didn't go out of my way to do something that ddg officially did not support. So there must have a been a mistake in technical communication at some level if people are using it this way.

I'm not a fan. I'm a user, and I'm taking my time to leave feedback. I like how the staff respond. I don't care what others, including you think of my opinions.

I use bangs on ddg. I like that. And other search engines don't have it as far as I know. That is why I use ddg. And I want to keep using it the way I like it. At least that is what I was thinking when I first left my comment. Bringing up "other search engines don't have bangs" is stupid, since I like ddg anyway. Please go try to convince someone else who isn't using ddg to use it.

About the @ sign. It was just a random idea... and I said "not sure if that would be a good idea though" That should have answered your reply before you typed it.

Apparently this is an issue since there are more than one people that are having this "issue".
posted by <hidden> • 4 years and 16 days ago Link
x.15a2
Thanks for being a user (maybe a "fan" some day?)! We're glad that you enjoy using !bangs, they are one of DDG's most popular features.

Hopefully, you'll find the change to be minor and will adjust to it easily. Also, this change should improve searches over-all, including those that contain punctuation characters.
posted by x.15a2 Community Leader4 years and 15 days ago Link
anonymous
It took me several days to find this post. First I thought the Bangs were just temporarily not working and dealt with it. To be honest, if English is not your mother tongue, and you're not working in the typo-industry, then the word bang is not that obvious. First I was looking for "duckduckgo magic stopped working".

Wouldn't it be very user friendly to recognize the exclamation mark (bang) in the search string and on top of the results display a friendly note: "We noticed that you used an exclamation mark (bang) in your query. Please note that it must be before the word in order to work. For more details, check out our announcement here: https://duck.co/forum/thread/10814/an-up..."

That would be awesome and would help loads of people.
posted by <hidden> • 4 years and 15 days ago Link
anonymous
This change stinks, and the way it was rolled out stinks.

1. This change stinks. Bangs are one of the main reasons I use DDG over Google etc. It is a core feature of the product. Bring back the bang suffix. People who search for exclamation points as part of their search terms should get what they deserve. They should use quotes, and DDG should be smart enough to detect common search terms with exclamation marks, and treat them accordingly, by saying "did you mean xyz?" much like a misspelling is treated.

2. The way it was rolled out stinks. I thought my browser was faulty, and spent a long time troubleshooting the issue, looking at browser settings, my DDG settings, etc. I even sent "feedback" using the DDG form (still no response!) When I searched DuckDuckGo's own engine for what might be wrong, this forums post did not come up. Is it even being indexed? There should have been (and still should be) an announcement on the front page of DuckDuckGo. Before this unfortunate and ill-considered change is rolled back. Which it should be. Now.






posted by <hidden> • 4 years and 15 days ago Link
This comment has been removed for violation of our forum rules.
posted by <hidden> • 4 years and 15 days ago
anonymous
Took me some days to figure, but I eventually did. I mostly use g! (or now, !g), as a fallback, and initially thought google had severed redirects from its competitor. ¬°PANIC!

"Takes getting used to" is true for me, too, but you're at liberty to take that as a compliment: so useful is the feature, that people's brains have even automatized the use thereof. That only happens with actions you repeat a lot!
posted by <hidden> • 4 years and 11 days ago Link
anonymous
I created an account to post a request to allow prefix colons instead of bangs. I think these are easier to type as well as less likely to be used accidentally except by programmers who would probably recognize the need to quote ther search. https://duck.co/forum/thread/10957/alter...
posted by <hidden> • 4 years and 11 days ago Link
buckeye
both ! and : require the shift key so one is no easier than the other

the ! is called "bang" in the print and computer industries not just on ddg and if you think about it over it would be awkward sounding to do a colon search


posted by buckeye 4 years and 10 days ago Link
anonymous
I agree that it's easier to search for "bang search", but it's faster to type colon because your hand does not need to leave the home row. You could call them "keyword searches", but that meaning is less common, even among prgrammers.
posted by <hidden> • 4 years and 10 days ago Link