Claudio Saavedra

Go forward in time to September 2013.

Tue 2013/Aug/27

Today, we have switched the default search engine in Web from Google to DuckDuckGo. This change might come up as a surprise, but there are a handful of reasons why this actually makes sense:

  • Privacy: the GNOME project has decided, since that enlightening keynote by Jacob Appelbaum in GUADEC 2012, to make an extra effort towards ensuring users' privacy, and we, the Web developers, believe we need to align with this goal. Using Google's search engine by default is counterproductive to this effect, unfortunately. I assume I don't need to go into details on the many ways in which Google tracks what their users do. DuckDuckGo, on the other hand, does not collect or share personal information.

  • Cooperation: It's been some time now since we were first contacted by DuckDuckGo regarding the possibility to partner with them in order to share a percentage of the revenue that they make from the traffic originated on their search engine links, should DuckDuckGo become Web's default search engine. We discussed this possibility extensively, among the Web maintainers, within Igalia, and with the GNOME Foundation Board. In the end we all agreed that Igalia was the most suitable partner for this cooperation due to its commitment not only to advancing WebKitGTK+ and Web, but also to enabling the community through events like its yearly WebKitGTK+ hackfest. We believe that whatever revenue that might result from this partnership with DuckDuckGo will surely be a contribution to these efforts. Then again, knowing the humble size of our userbase, we should let neither our expectations nor our imagination run wild on this front.

  • It works: as this is something that we've been debating for pretty long, I've spent this time using DuckDuckGo as the default search engine on my own machines, and I am happy with the results it gives. It even has pretty handy keywords that you can use to directly search in Wikipedia (!w), Amazon (!a), or even Google if you still need it (!g). I do believe the Spanish translation of the website could use some love, but their community platform is probably a good starting place for anyone interested in contributing with more and improved translations.

As is usually the case with noticeable changes, I expect that not everyone will be entirely happy with it. But that is no reason to panic:

  • This partnership is for a limited time, and we will evaluate whether its continuation makes sense, in the long-term. The feedback we receive from our users will naturally have an impact on whatever decision we make in this regard.

  • If you can't stand this, you can always customize the search engine used, choosing whatever suits you best. Simply follow the instructions as documented in the wiki.

  • If you have already customized your search engine, don't worry, this change won't affect you unless you go back to the default.

This change, already in master, will only affect Web from 3.10, to be released in September. Now I should go back to merge a few more changes and make a beta release. Enough said, happy browsing!

Sun 2013/Aug/04

A few random notes on GUADEC:

  • The slides for my Web talk, generated from the pinpoint sources, are available here.

  • I'm delighted with the relevance that students have gained inside the project and all the effort the community puts into integrating them. It is hard not to see GNOME and GUADEC nowadays as a platform to bring young people into free software, this being an effort that can only bring positive results in the long run. This, in itself, is motivation enough for me to be part of this wonderful community — I only wish more Chilean students would be encouraged to participate in GSoC and OPW.

  • Kat and other enthusiastic contributors have been working hard rewriting the documentation for Web. I have reviewed it and I'm very happy with it. We were badly needing documentation so I can only be grateful for their persistence and patience, specially when it comes down to chasing me around the venue despite my hiding.

  • Despite all the years past and how much effort we've put into making it clear who is who, people continue to confuse Garnacho and me. I am close to giving up on the subject and start impersonating him next time someone mixes us up. I need to work on my madrileño accent, though.

  • I can't believe Federico thought Condorito is Colombian. Something is really wrong with the world.

Go backwards in time to July 2013.

Sun 2013/Aug/04 17:15:38 +0200