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On Saturday, join DuckDuckGo’s virtual hackathon

The company is focused on creating a search engine built with the community that uses it.

From an old-school "Quack and Hack" at DuckDuckGo's Paoli office, July 2012. (Courtesy photo)

DuckDuckGo wants you to join the open source movement. Why not start with hacking the search engine?
On Saturday, the Paoli-based anti-Google (read: it doesn’t track you) is hosting a 24-hour virtual version of the “Quack and Hack” hackathons they’ve held IRL. Developers can learn about DuckDuckGo as an open source platform and make the search engine better by adding tech-related search shortcuts, which the company calls instant answers. Here’s an example. (Developers get credited for their instant answers, too. Click the “Information” icon on that example to see.)
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There’s also an in-person Philadelphia meetup at Benjamin’s Desk from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Here’s spokesman Zac Pappis on why DuckDuckGo is going virtual:

Our dev community is the key to providing a better search experience. The best Instant Answers are created by the folks that know those subjects intimately. e.g. a passionate Lego hobbyist can create the best Lego Instant Answers because they’ll know what to show for which searches, what sources should power the data as well as which communities can offer their knowledge/help. [Editor’s note: This is a real-life example.]
The Global Quack & Hack is all about making DuckDuckGo the best search engine a developer can use for their searches, not just on that day but long into the future. If we can give awe-inspiring results to developers, we hope they’ll consider joining our open source search movement long-term.

Also: the 28-person company, most of whose staffers are remote, hires from its developer community (Pappis himself was a community member before he joined the team). Meaning that this isn’t a bad place to start if you want to get hired at DuckDuckGo, which has exploded in popularity since Edward Snowden revealed the extent of the federal government’s surveillance program. Still, the search engine holds only a small fraction of the search market, as a recent Fast Company story pointed out.
These kinds of events speak to DuckDuckGo’s approach, counter to that of the search giants. They want to create a search engine built by the community, driven by a community’s interests and desires.
One question that inevitably comes to mind is: why do this for a for-profit company?
It’s not that uncommon, however. Al Jazeera’s news hackathon last year challenged developers to build news apps for the company. The underlying sentiment, behind both hackathons, is that there’s a greater good involved. The thinking is: if you want a search engine that doesn’t track you and that’s also worth using, you should join in.

Companies: DuckDuckGo

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