What is Ditto?Ditto.com is a free image search engine that enables users to search for images. Ditto recently announced that they have 500 million pictures in their image search (and counting), and they claim to have the "largest searchable index of visual content on the Internet via proprietary processes." Basically, Ditto is a way to find images fast and effectively - they've also been around for a a pretty long time in Internet years (I remember using them back when they started in 1999).
A Note About Searching for Images at DittoOne thing before we get too far into the nuts and bolts of Ditto: on the bottom of every page of Ditto, you will see this legal disclaimer: "Ditto provides visual search of the web using pictures. Users are linked to the originating web site on which the pictures are located. Should you wish to use any picture, photo or artwork you see during the search process, you must obtain the appropriate permission from the owner of the material."
Basically what this is saying is just because Ditto is providing this image search for you, not all of these images that you're able to find are free for your own use. Just like any other image you might find on the Web, you have to obtain permission to use it (unless it's clearly marked that it's fair use). If you find an image using Ditto that you'd like to use and need to contact the owner, you might want to check out Jennifer Kyrnin's excellent Copyright Permission Request Form Letter.
Use Ditto to Search for ImagesNavigate to the Ditto home page, and you'll see the regular search query bar in the middle with various tabbed options at the top (images, Web, shopping, news, weather, yellow pages, and partners). Simply type in whatever image search query you might like to explore and click "go." I typed in "Chewbacca" and got a good number of relevant Wookie results.
The search results page is clean and uncluttered, and underneath each thumbnail image is the original source link (remember, Ditto is an image search engine and does not own these images) along with the size of the original image. Click on a picture and you're taken to the original source of the image in a new browser window. Underneath the image results are sponsored results (ads).
The Ditto FilterDitto has a pretty strong Internet content filter, and according to their Internet Filters information page, Ditto "uses proprietary technology as well as a human element to check each and every keyword and image that is in our production database." And this apparently is paying off, since they have stamps of approval from three prominent Internet content filter providers: Net Nanny, CyberSitter, and SafeSurf.
However, as always, I don't suggest that parents rely solely on an Internet content filter to screen out questionable content for their children. My Safe Search Checklist can be a good resource for helping families determine Internet safety boundaries.
Ditto Image Search FeaturesDitto is pretty straightforward. They are mostly about image search, yet they do have a couple of other search options available to the image searcher. If you would like to search the Web with Ditto, you can simply click on the "Web" tag on the main Ditto search query bar.
However, every single one of the results returned for whatever query you might enter in comes back as "sponsored results", yes, you guessed it-they're all ads. I sorted through over 15 pages of search results to see if this ever changed and it did not. You can mouse over any of the returned sponsored links results and you'll get a thumbnail shot of what the page looks like, to see if you would like to visit it further. The same is true with Ditto's Shopping results.
Ditto also offers News (powered by Yahoo News), Weather (which also looks to be powered by Yahoo),and Yellow Pages (powered by Mapocity).
You can also check out the Ditto Toolbar, in both Internet Explorer and Firefox versions, to find images with Ditto, along with all the other search features that they currently offer.
Why should I use Ditto?Image search with Ditto is easy, fast, and you get relevant results for whatever query you come up with. Ditto doesn't have a lot of bells and whistles, which is nice-it's just straightforward image search.
However, my one beef with Ditto is that they seem to be branching out into other Web pursuits (the Web search, Yellow pages, etc.) that are perhaps taking away from Ditto's main objective, which is image search. My personal opinion is that Ditto would do better to focus solely on the image search rather than attempting to be an all-encompassing search engine or search portal.