In the late 90s, google became popular for one reason: because they had a no-nonsense frontpage that loaded quickly and didn't try to play with your mind. Well, at least that was my motivation for switching. The fact that they were using a revolutionary new search algorithm which changed the way you search the web had nothing to do with it, but was a nice extra.
Over the years, that small hand-written frontpage has morphed into something else. A behind-the-scenes look at the page shows that it's no longer the hand-written simple form of old, but something horrible that went through a minifier (read: obfuscator). Even so, a quick check against the Internet Wayback machine shows that the size of that page has increased twenty-fold, which is a lot. But I could live with that, since at least it looked superficially similar.
Recently, however, they've changed their frontpage so that search-as-you-type is enabled by default. Switching that off requires you to log in. So, you have a choice between giving up your privacy by logging in before you enter a search term, or by having everything you type, including any typos and stuff you may not have confirmed yet, be sent over to a data center god knows where. Additionally, at the first character you type, the front page switches away to the results page, causing me to go "uh?!?" as I try to find where they moved my cursor to. This is annoying.
Duckduckgo doesn't do these things; and since they also don't do things like combining my typing skills, phone contact list, calendar, and chat history to figure out that I might be interested in a date, I'm a lot more comfortable using them.
So a few days ago, I decided to switch my default search engine in chromium to duckduckgo. It still feels a bit weird, to be using a browser written by one search engine to search something on another; but all in all, it's been a positive experience. And the fact that wikipedia results are shown first, followed by (maybe) one ad, followed by other search results, is refreshing.
We'll see how far this gets us.