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jshields
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Post by jshields » Wed Mar 07, 2018 9:05 pm

Hello, this is John Shields from DuckDuckGo.
You may know that our search engine doesn't track its users, nor collect, or store any personally identifiable information. That's our privacy policy in a nutshell (see https://duckduckgo.com/privacy for more details). We also share your concern with unwanted ads and actively work to limit them.

Yesterday an addition was made to the Specific Block List add791e that is blocking our products instant answer. Unlike on Google, the products displayed on DuckDuckGo are not paid sponsored links. Instead, we show relevant results from Amazon's Product API (and soon other sources).

While we do earn affiliate revenue anonymously from Amazon if people ultimately complete purchases, we do not get paid for just showing the products nor do we do any re-ranking of this content over other content because of any possible payment. Therefore, we do not consider this instant answer an ad, but instead a necessary and expected part of the general search experience. To that end, we only show the product instant answer on pertinent keywords - when people expect to see a browsable list of products that relate to their query.

Therefore, we'd like to request that this change on the list be reverted, as it is currently breaking the search experience of millions of users; in particular, expected answers are now absent, and it is further degrading the search experience by causing long delays for these users with empty elements, before the page jumps back to displaying other content.

We're a best-in-class privacy solution across the web, and actively support anti-tracking efforts. We are happy to work within the constraints of your policies and consider recommended changes to the request.

Could you let us know how we might work with you to resolve this?
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MonztA
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Post by MonztA » Sat Mar 10, 2018 11:09 am

It's directly linking to Amazon when searching. How is this not an ad?

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Post by jshields » Mon Mar 12, 2018 6:23 pm

The difference we're citing is that we aren't paid for just showing product related answers from Amazon, or when they are clicked, which makes this case distinct from advertising. In addition, these answers are unobtrusive and done without any user tracking (we don't collect or store any personal information).

Only if a user searches a relevant keyword, and finds it useful to make a purchase, do we then earn any revenue. And in cases where we plan to integrate other sources where there is no affiliate possibility, we would earn nothing. Therefore, we believe this experience steers clear of the "promotion" criteria in the advert definition.

In general-purpose search, a user searching "headphones" has a reasonable expectation to begin a product shopping experience from the results page. We view this experience similar to the product tiles at Wirecutter
https://thewirecutter.com/reviews/best-open-back-headphones-under-500/
- the user progresses from research to transaction. While other search engines are paid merely for showing those listings as ads - and will thus display the results of the highest bidder - we display products strictly on relevance, aiding the user in the research process.

With that context, could you let us know how we might work with you to resolve this?

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Post by fanboy » Sun Mar 18, 2018 7:52 am

Promos, affiliates, link to 3rd party content that isn't yours can be classed as an advert. Reminds me of complaint from openstreemaps, https://github.com/easylist/easylist/pull/900

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