And the topic of this morning's tirade is... Forum Overload.
In the past several weeks, Duolingo appears to have chosen just to dump all feedback about the lesson material into the corresponding language forum. I hate this, because there are hundreds of new entries a day (mostly frivolous) that totally bury any non-lesson content someone might like to post. I have several comments and/or recommendations.
1) Many, many of the posts are pointing out mistakes or omissions in the lesson material itself (and a fair portion of these have to do with the lesson audio). Why are these appearing in the public forums at all? After all, there's not a single thing I can do about it as a regular user.
2) And the very fact that these types of issues are now appearing in the public forums has me wondering if Duolingo is now just choosing to ignore these issues. In the last several days, I have recognized some of the reported sentence problems as problems that I submitted myself a month or more ago. At the time, I got the feeling that Duo was actually fixing these. Now I wonder. If they're getting fixed, why do they keep cropping up?
3) If you insist on continued dumping of all the feedback into the language forums, then please make a separate set of forums just for that. That is, for example, "German Discussion" and "German Lesson Discussion". Then at least people that do post general questions not necessarily related to the lessons have a chance of getting their questions seen rather than just buried in the noise. As it is now, why would anyone bother making a new discussion in the language-specific forums? By nightfall, they'll just be buried by several hundred, posts about the lesson material.
This morning I went through a batch of 20 forum posts. Of those 20, three were questions of grammar or other aspect of the language that could actually be answered by forum readers. The remaining 17 were reporting some sort of issue with the lessons themselves (this translation is wrong, this word sounds funny, another valid translation is..., etc.). Although those 17 represent legitimate concerns, there's not a damned thing I can do about them other that commiserate "Yeah, the lessons suck all right." Why am I seeing them?
4) Please either sort the forum threads by most recent activity (or make that an option selectable through our profile links), or mark threads that have new activity (new to each individual user that is... a feature common on other web-based forums) with some kind of icon (or do both). Yes, I know you have the "following" mechanism in place right now, and I do appreciate the e-mail notifications. I don't want to lose that. On the other hand, I would like an easy way to know when an old thread that I don't happen to be following (yet) gets new activity.a
Thanks. We actually agree with what you're saying.
Our intention was not to substitute feedback about problems with the sentences (which we will continue fixing!). What we want to achieve with the sentence comments are discussions about the language itself. We'll be making a few changes that will hopefully address this problem.
I agree with most of the original statements and it seems to be that to avoid the "forum overload" you have to change the answer options:
Streamline the section to comment and report problems: Create only one section only: Report a problem
- My answer should be accepted
- The original sentence has a mistake
- Duolingo's answer is wrong/has mistakes
- The dictionary hints are misleading/incomplete
- The sound is terrible
- Comments - opens a new section
One submit button for all
Thanks (Alternatively, return to the older version and just work with general feedback :-( )
I totally agree with this. Often, when an answer given is wrong, I can't "report" it as the only option that I'm given is "The original sentence has a mistake". So I have been commenting on it in the comment section. I have since given up on doing anything about it because the comment section is apparently not for reporting issues....that's what the "Report a problem" is for, even though the problem isn't listed.
I think part of the problem is that by providing a discussion thread for each sentence, people are led to question each and every thing they don't immediately understand. The threshold for posting a question seems to be too low. I'm sure a lot of their questions would be solved simply by completing the lesson.
As far as feedback is concerned, I too am baffled as to why so much of it ends up on the discussion board.
I agree on your concerns for that forum. Nevertheless, a solution is needed, as chubbard mentioned in other post. A suggestion is that the forum/discussion (for the sentence) board can only be written by users with high knowledge level. I do agree that many users will lack the level to write anything useful, and that includes myself in most cases. However, if the access to write is above a certain level for a certain sentence difficulty, this would provide the needed quality control.
I think part of the problem is that there is an option to "report an issue with the sentence" but then they don't give you a text box to say what is wrong with the sentence. I think that they tried to separate the learning comments from the issues but didn't go far enough. Without the text box for reporting an issue it encourages people to put their issues in the comments section because that is the only way they feel that the Duolingo staff will know what is really wrong with the sentence. If they do create a "report an issue" textbox these issues should not go into the forum but should just go to Duolingo staff to look into.
There seems to be a lot of concern with the quality of the sound. Yes, it is annoyingly difficult to distinguish certain sounds from others but I imagine that listening to a cross-section of native French speakers who weren't trying to be unusually clear in their speech would be even harder to understand. Especially since there is no button to repeat as many times as you want at an unnaturally slow speed.
You are right of course, it is annoyingly difficult (in any language) to distinguish certain sounds;
so isn't it the job of a learning platform to provide the means to make that easier ?, like a very precise pronounciation for beginners (say level 1-5) and the slurred pronounciation for levels 15+;
the problem does not concern all audio exercises, but can be reduced to a few sounds (like c, b, ll in Spanish, and I am sure we can all add a few more examples in "our" languages;
Duolingo seems to make no efforts to do something about the issue (because all their resources are needed to expand into many languages rapidly ?), so it seems as if we have to live with the idea that the problem will solve itself when you evolve a few levels (bad luck for the people who frustratedly give up :-)); let´s keep on listening and guessing :-)
What I was thinking is that Duolingo is a free service that excels at what they try to do. Robotically splicing individual sounds and words to make up prhrases and sentences is not perfect but is satisfactory given the price they charge.
Also they very much encourage you to look at other sources to complement what they do.
There are instances where I have been marked as incorrect when it was the result of poor sound. However, there are many, many more when it was simply a mistake on my part, often just poor typing.
When I get to the stage where most of my errors are the result of poor or misleading sound then I will be ready to move on to other methods of improving my French. Currently, I have no French at all except for what I am learning from Duolingo. I have put more effort for a much longer time with other approaches than I have with Duolingo but made little if any progress compared to what I am now accomplishing. (with comparatively little effort)
All I can say that Duolingo works for me!
Thanks for your answer; as you said, Duolingo is a great site and works for everyone willing to spend the time; a great site can be made better, and that is what Duolingo wants and ask for our feedback; so feedback and criticism (whether Duolingo implements them or not) are a vital part to improve our learning and Duolingo. Enjoy learning
Personally I find it frustrating clicking on a discussion thread only to find someone has simply commented "Such-and-such should also be a valid translation". If you think your translation should be accepted, then report it via the appropriate link. Telling all the other learners about it achieves nothing, and adds nothing to a discussion of the language unless you have something else to say/ask about the translation.
The comments you find frustrating refer to a time (around Christmas 2012 and earlier) when Duolingo did not have the "comment" and "report a problem" sections they have now. The only way to talk to Duolingo were discussions threads like the one you are in now. Luckily (and after a lot of coaxing as in this discussion) Duolingo changed all that and gave everybody a chance to discuss problems directly in the exercises and in that way also streamlined/de-clogged the general discussion somewhat :-))