New DuckDuckGo Bang – !pho

DuckDuckGo LogoDuckDuckGo is a search engine that emphasizes privacy. The site explains itself as, “The search engine that doesn’t track you.” That’s an important feature with today’s increasingly invasive technology — but that’s not the main reason why I like DuckDuckGo. I like healthy competition. I’ve had lots of bad experiences with Google, so it’s nice to see a strong alternative. I’ve switched my default search engine to DuckDuckGo and it’s been pretty good. I especially like the “Bang” feature. It’s a quick way to search a specific website, like this one!

If you’re not familiar with how this feature works, here’s a quick explanation. Popular websites are assigned a short abbreviation. By using an exclamation point as the first character in the search, immediately followed the site abbreviation, the subsequent search term will be sent directly to that website’s search engine.

An example would be If you wanted to search for “Hydroponics” at Amazon, you could simply type in the following search at DuckDuckGo…

  • !a Hydroponics

…or if you were looking for something specific, like an AeroGarden, then the following would be entered in the search bar…

  • !a AeroGarden

This trick is especially useful when DuckDuckGo is your default web browser. Want to search Wikipedia, use the !w bang. Not happy with the DuckDuckGo results? Use the !b bang for Bing, the !g bang for Google or the !y bang for Yahoo. This makes a browser’s “Address and Search” bar even more powerful.

There are thousands of bangs… …so I looked into creating one for Today, I got an email back. Here’s an excerpt of what it said…

Your bang !pho is now live on DuckDuckGo! Give it a try and let me know if you have any questions.

So, if you want to search this site directly from a DuckDuckGo powered search bar, the !pho bang is ready.

This was more of an experiment than of an actual need. I was checking to see how it works. I was also looking to see if the people at DuckDuckGo were friendly. It seems that they are. I like that. It did take a while to get a response, but it was nice. I’m really starting to like DuckDuckGo.

Here’s another example of why I like DuckDuckGo. Sometimes I like to type the “Shruggie” in chat messages. It looks like this… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ …and I used to search DuckDuckGo to find the way to type it. (I don’t know how to type Japanese characters with a keyboard.) So, I would cut-and-paste the Shruggie from the results. Eventually, DuckDuckGo learned. It now has the cute collection of characters at the top of the search results.

You can see this for yourself…

I think this feature could be handy if Photics arcade games return to this website. That way, if you have a favorite game that you like… !pho game name …to quickly play that game. Although, this involves a little web development work.

If you run your own website, and you really want to make this feature rock, redirect popular search terms to specific web pages. That avoids an extra page load. Your website visitors can bypass the search results page and go to a specific web page. On Apache servers, this can be accomplished with a modification to the main htaccess file…

# Search Redirects
RewriteCond %{QUERY_STRING} s=broom$ [NC,OR]
RewriteCond %{QUERY_STRING} s=b.r.o.o.m.$ [NC]
RewriteRule (.*) /games/broom/? [R=301,L]

The search query of “broom” automatically redirects to the B.R.O.O.M. game page. Or if you’re using DuckDuckGo… !pho broom …redirects to the B.R.O.O.M. game page. (I also setup an “OR” condition, if people use the dots.)

So now that I have a quick way to find the game, it seems like I should get back to work on finishing the game. ☺️