Autocomplete for search box

[Old Forum guest] anonymous
Created: 8 years and 26 days ago
The thing I probably miss most from Google is autocompletion in Firefox after pressing Control-K to use the search box. Would this be easy enough to add for DDG?

This forum has been archived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.

This might be something close to what you're looking for:
posted by [Old Forum guest] • 8 years and 26 days ago Link
I prefer DDG's home grown version and not using Google. After all this is a Google alternative.
posted by [Old Forum ali-sarchami] • 8 years and 26 days ago Link
i know right? I like the duck not goog but here they are wanting the duk to be goog. Go use goog already!

0 click
just a few of my favorite things...
posted by [Old Forum guest] • 7 years and 8 months ago Link
Also, I was a bit turned off that the link in discussion mentions "adding a DDG search bar to my browser."  I already added it and have DDG as my default search.  Will this add another one, creating an ugly duplicate?  Forget it...I'll finish typing myself.
posted by [Old Forum guest] • 8 years and 26 days ago Link
I'm not sure what you mean.. it doesn't add a second bar, it adds a new option to the existing search box.

(I built the ddg + google search plugin linked to above.)
posted by [Old Forum nfriedly] • 8 years and 26 days ago Link
I would like to do search suggestions, and could use UX ideas. There was someone who was going to help with this project, but I haven't heard from him in a while, so I'm not sure where that stands but I can find out.

Google et al. use their past data to come up with the suggestions, and of course our data is lacking in this regard (in size), so complete replication is a bit difficult.

A homegrown version I've been thinking about is to highlight DDG Topics, i.e. related searches where we have good 0-click info. This might be more akin to Facebook or Wikipedia auto-complete. Would love to know your thoughts on that.
posted by yegg Staff8 years and 24 days ago Link
Come up with a list of words people might search for, and just add them to the autocomplete. That's the way I do it.  I have collected nearly 12,000 movie titles, 20,000 high schools, etc. so I don't have to use Freebase in my site.  Sure, it's a lot of work, yet a homegrown autocomplete is best.  What you could even do is, when someone enters a !bang for a movie, such as !imdb, you can have the autocomplete work specifically for movie related autocompletion.
posted by [Old Forum eric.leebow] • 8 years and 23 days ago Link
Use Freebase, like eric said. Cache, also, to save Freebase's servers. :) You also have lots and lots topical information, such as the Wikipedia articles (that is what I see most of...). Use those as auto-completes as well!

Also, !-sensitive suggestions would be awesome.

Finally, if you were to do suggestions, could you expose the suggestions as a JSON api as well? Like Google, so our awesome search bar is even more not-Google? :P
Replacing Emoji...
posted by [Old Forum guest] • 8 years and 18 days ago Link
I am guessing that even if ddg uses the words in its 0-click info. database, and uses them craftily, it can come up with good completions for searches.

posted by [Old Forum dhruvbird] • 8 years and 8 days ago Link
Use Freebase or don't use it, it doesn't matter, either way.  If he wants DuckDuckGo to be itself someday, he shouldn't depend on any other services from the outside.
posted by [Old Forum eric.leebow] • 8 years and 18 days ago Link
I have a large list of topics that I can use for auto-complete that I already use for other things. That part is done, at least version one of it. What's not done is going from there to the interface to get people to use it. Someone suggested using solr for the delivery, but I haven't looked into it enough yet to know if that is a good way to go about it.
posted by yegg Staff8 years and 7 days ago Link
I haven't looked at solr too. However, from the top of my head, 2 approaches seem to stand out:
1. Using LIKE queries to search for string prefixes
2. Keep everything in a ternary search tree in memory and make these suggestions very very fast -- assuming that we have a machine with enough memory to keep stuff in memory.

posted by [Old Forum guest] • 8 years and 7 days ago Link
I use LIKE queries in other areas, but they aren't fast enough for key by key suggestions. A memory search tree could work, but that essentially re-implementing solr. I suggested solr because someone who has experience with auto-complete suggested it. 
posted by yegg Staff8 years and 7 days ago Link
I was just looking at solr's auto complete and came across this:
and this:

The 1st link has a lot of lag for suggesting terms, but that could be because of the server, etc...
What's the status on this?

posted by [Old Forum dhruvbird] • 7 years and 11 months ago Link
Those are great links. I looked at that issue thread actually, and I started implementing it via the terms component instead and YUI Autocomplete on the front end. I never saw that demo though.

Right now I have solr talking to YUI, but I still need to do the initial ranking and the design. Of course, any ideas on any of this would be greatly appreciated.
posted by yegg Staff7 years and 11 months ago Link
I have an early prototype of this up at and am wondering what everyone thinks about it.

All of this is subject to change, but this is what it is doing right now:
--it isn't based on search terms, but on (about 13M) zero-click info terms.
--it requires 4 characters before it completes
--it doesn't animate at the moment (too distracting?) 

Some ideas/thoughts:
--showing more zero-click in the box either by default or when you highlight a suggestion
--showing more suggestions (right now it is showing five)
--showing it for less (or more letters)
--showing official sites in-line
--possible different ui?
--is speed OK?
posted by yegg Staff7 years and 11 months ago Link
Considering the limited data used, it's very good and makes search easier.
5 search suggestions is good. Official sites can be added as a 1st or 2nd item, but could not count towards the total.
I found myself typing exactly 3 characters and waiting for it to suggest something  (4 is an weird number).
UI wise, a box below the input works fine and it's what people expect.
The speed is great.
Zero-click in the search box suggestions? Might be a bit too much.
posted by [Old Forum mrmagical] • 7 years and 11 months ago Link
OK, for sake of changing it up a little, refresh that page. I:

--made it 7 suggestions
--start completing after 3 characters
--auto-highlight the first result
--added type-ahead into the box

Last two together seem like they might be overkill, but perhaps one is useful; not sure.

For some good 0-click implementations check out these from Facebook and Apple:

posted by yegg Staff7 years and 11 months ago Link
I don't like the highlighting of the first result.
It makes sense to automatically fill in the terms when you select a suggestion, because it hints what will happen when if you press enter.

Zero-click info might work if it's displayed in a manner which doesn't distract too much.
posted by [Old Forum guest] • 7 years and 11 months ago Link
Yeah, I think I agree about the highlighting as well, which is why I initially disabled it :).
posted by yegg Staff7 years and 11 months ago Link
I like the type-ahead, but I tapped the right arrow key expecting to jump to the end of the word so that I could add another, and it instead searched as if I had hit [enter] instead of an arrow key. Firefox / OS X / MBP if that makes a difference.
posted by [Old Forum nfriedly] • 7 years and 11 months ago Link
Yeah, that's a bug. I have it auto-submit on highlight and it must extend to the type-ahead. I'll fix if we think the type-ahead is any good :). I sort of find it distracting though.
posted by yegg Staff7 years and 11 months ago Link
I have tested the DuckDuckGo + Google suggestions workarounds for search bars in browsers and it has been a great help in converting me to DDG.

But as soon as I land on the website and start interacting with the search box there, I miss this feature badly again.

I understand this is not a trivial thing to implement but please don't give up on the non-0-click info.

Oh and yes, please don't make it type-ahead by default. As a setting maybe?

Keep up the good work!
posted by [Old Forum shariff.inayat] • 7 years and 8 months ago Link
Thx! It was put aside for a little bit during some of these other projects, but it should be coming back into the forefront soon.
posted by yegg Staff7 years and 8 months ago Link
Noooo, don't add auto-complete. It's so akin to what the other big search engines do and makes you feel more tracked, like the search engine is remembering your preferences, etc.  

Of course, I think most people like the auto-complete so maybe you shouldn't listen to me lol. 
posted by [Old Forum c-hase] • 7 years and 5 months ago Link

Personally, I can go either way on the auto complete function, but I think it is probably one of those features a lot of people are going to expect if DDG is going to run with the big boys.

posted by [Old Forum oldhack] • 7 years and 5 months ago Link
What about a different kind of auto-suggestion that might be better? 

Searcher starts typing: "Ho.."
        - Are you looking for an answer to a question?
        - Are you looking for a product review?
        - Are you looking for a place?
        - Something else?

Of course this would probably take a complete revision of how DDG or any other search engine works, but I always thought this would be cool and help searchers find what they're really looking for on the web without so much nonsense.

posted by [Old Forum c-hase] • 7 years and 5 months ago Link
Actually, DuckDuckGo already does this when there's an ambiguity. Try

And since autocomplete currently searches Zero-Click-Info.... in a roundabout way, it's already implemented.
posted by [Old Forum notriddle] • 7 years and 5 months ago Link
Please drop this idea. Where's the "I don't like this idea" button?

If google have resources to waste using a pointless feature like this it's ok for them, but DDG should focus its limited resources on doing other cool things.

Seriously people, don't you really know what are you looking for while you type?

I don't remember myself selecting one of the options offered by autocomplete while I was a google user... actually, they were distracting for me, as it is difficult to avoid looking at the suggestions even when you know what exactly you're going to type and search.

personal opinion:

1) it's usually faster to just type the few words that you need instead of looking AND selecting the correct auto-suggested option
2) auto-suggested options adds clutter to the search experience
3) search results are way much better than a list of keywords auto-suggestion could be. Therefore, auto-suggestion is just in the middle of the way for a clear search experience.
4) if I type "ho", the only way a search engine could make suggestions for me is reading my mind. I mean, let me finish typing  for god's sake :P
posted by [Old Forum guest] • 7 years and 5 months ago Link
But you're probably an elite internet "power user" that can type 200wpm and spend 10+ hours on the internet every day.  Ask regular Joe you meet somewhere or Grandma/Grandpa and you'll see why the big search engines have implemented and kept the auto-complete.  

When most people type they look at the keyboard, type a letter or two, look back up at the screen, look back down and peck away some more.  So the auto-complete serves a really useful purpose for them and gets them searching faster, minimizing the frustration caused by their own lack of typing skills and web saavy. 

I hate it too, but I think that in this case it probably is necessary if the masses are to embrace DDG.
posted by [Old Forum c-hase] • 7 years and 5 months ago Link

I’m not wild about the “What are you looking for?” option, but I do think a Big Time search engine will likely need and auto complete feature. Maybe it would be good if the feature could be turned off in the settings.

posted by [Old Forum oldhack] • 7 years and 5 months ago Link
I haven’t seen anything on this topic of late.

I missed it in this original post but I stumbled upon nfriendly’s DDG + Google auto complete tool bar addon and I love it.
Find it here if you missed as I did:
Is there any way to incorporate this into the one of the versions of the DDG search engine? I would love to see it in all versions including the HTML spread version.

I would also like to see the bang drop down search button added to the spread version as well.

What do you think yegg?

posted by [Old Forum oldhack] • 7 years and 3 months ago Link
+1 +1 +1
posted by [Old Forum guest] • 7 years and 3 months ago Link
Yup, big delays I know given we had a prototype a long time ago, but this is still in the works -- just hasn't been high priority as of late.
posted by yegg Staff7 years and 3 months ago Link