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Word strength changes

tatouPlus
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We've been experimenting with a new way to score word strength, which we first announced a few weeks ago: http://www.duolingo.com/comment/997120

We're happy to announce that this new model is working better, and we are going to switch all accounts to using it very soon. So if you see sudden changes in word/skill strength, this is probably why.

In particular:

  1. New words you've just learned should decay faster than they previously did, and

  2. It will help with certain pesky words that seem to decay too quickly (or too slowly) no matter how often you practice them.

Update: Any drops in skill strength will certainly come as a shock (although many of you will see no change, or even an increase in strength). But an hour or less of practice should fix it. Try to focus the actual quality of your practice sessions: they should be harder now and give your brain a workout where you need it most!

Update #2: One thing that's hard to see is that, on average, your individual words are actually stronger with this new model (by 10.1% according the experiments I ran before we pushed it to everyone). However, the words that went down are probably all clustered together due to problems with the old algorithm, which is why you're seeing so many skills decay (particularly newer skills).

4 years ago

59 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/Kashirigi

What a delight. I now have to do eight lessons to get to the level I was at yesterday evening, including, for whatever unfathomable reason, both Basics I and II.

If the words that I'm using 3/4 of the way up the skill tree aren't in Basics I and II (and hence not causing them to decay) then either the algorithm needs work or the content does.

I might add, one of the words which apparently I have not seen in five days is "una" which is, frankly, ridiculous.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Matt.Cooksey

Same here. Basics II and I both need practice. ???? Come on, right?

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/dnovinc
dnovinc
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I think this is happening because certain words from both basics I and II are not loading properly. You can verify this by first checking which lessons have deteriorated then go to vocabulary and check those lesson's words. You will see that number of words shown is not corresponding the number of words taught in those lessons. Also you might notice the loading circle just below the words.

edit:

example: In my German basics I it says "Showing all 6 words" , but only 3 words are shown and the loading circle is constantly active.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/tatou
tatouPlus
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Perhaps you folks can provide a screen shot to clarify what you're talking about? I cannot seem to see or reproduce what you are describing.

EDIT: OK, I figured it out... no, this isn't the problem. This is in fact just a bug in the display code of the vocab section, and doesn't appear have anything to do with any strangeness in Basics.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/aspielman
aspielman
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I am convinced the problem is still here. The changes today have (for example) decayed French Basics 2. The app screen helpfully lists my weakest words as robe, aime, enfants, laissent, lisons, femmes, mangeons, avais, écrivent and écris. I just checked my vocabulary list and underlying verb pages and find that 8 of these are at full strength, and the other two are at full strength in one form and 2/3 bars in the other. There are plenty of 1 and 2 bar words in my list so it just isn't logical that I and others keep getting sent back round this loop of re-practising stuff we know really well.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/CattleRustler

any chance of paginating the vocab page, instead of the scroll-add on action it performs now?

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/claudjo
claudjo
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for me it's the same

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/aspielman
aspielman
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You are absolutely right, and I wish that this problem could be acknowledged: I and many others have fed back on it - my comments were here http://www.duolingo.com/comment/1059497. I was noting what had only started to happen since the test algorithm was applied two weeks ago.

Also to my sorrow the further changes applied today (another 100+ decayed skills on top of 100-odd two weeks ago) seem to show that the problem is not fixed. The Basics and other skills that I mentioned are all decayed again, for the third or fourth time in a fortnight, when my vocabulary list has been showing them at full strength.

Tatou, can you please tell us what is happening in relation to this glitch - there have now been quite a number of threads on it.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/tatou
tatouPlus
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100+ decayed skills? You mean words? None of our trees even have 100 skills, so I'm confused.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/aspielman
aspielman
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I am also a bit puzzled to have these 100+ skills decay at once when the same thing happened only two weeks ago when you put in the test algorithm, and I had just finished restoring all trees to gold since then? Why would this happen?

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/aspielman
aspielman
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No, skills - across 4 languages

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/aspielman
aspielman
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Thank you Tatou - I don't know what you just tweaked but my trees are looking MUCH more reasonable (and I see you are now on to the Basics mystery).

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/quest42good
quest42good
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Yes, same here.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/dwduo
dwduo
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I am experiencing at least part of that as well, I think. I typically do a bit of recap or 'weakest' vocab before I do a lesson for the day, but up until now, everything has always been full strength. That always struck me as odd; nothing ever decayed. However today, I'm being told that "Tasche" is weak (even though I just answered 3 questions with it, and it's a word I learned recently -- but perhaps the latter is why), and that "das" is weak, which is, as you put it, frankly ridiculous. Meanwhile, practicing weakest words gives me combinations of "wir lesen ein Buch" and "er liest die Zeitung" until I'm ready to vomit books and newspapers and reading in general. With over 150 words so far, I should definitely be getting asked about more things than newspapers and books, newspapers and books. Enough with the newspapers and books, I get it! (I shouldn't have to disable them for the algorithms to work correctly).

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/tatou
tatouPlus
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I'm not really sure why Basics should be decaying so rapidly, I'll look into it...

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jamezzzr
jamezzzr
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I'm not really thrilled with this new update: half of the skills now require strengthening (I'm at level 11 in French). To be honest, I don't have that kind of time nor energy to do that for so many skills every day. Can we get the older model back or be able to regulate the model on our own from somehow in the settings?

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Kashirigi

I heartily agree with this statement.

When Duolingo said that they were going to make gaming "gamified", I didn't really picture the grind of a free-to-play MMO. At the very least, by doing a couple or three of lessons a day, you should be able to advance slightly, not just tread water. I don't have multiple hours per day to devote to Duolingo, and I suspect that others may be in the same boat.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/chilvence
chilvence
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I suggest you do what I do and just plough ahead regardless. The previous skills will get some slight benefit anyway, because the words and concepts are re-used in the subsequent lessons. The algorithm that measures the decay is good, but you don't have to chain yourself to it just to keep some virtual gold bars shiny - you can always save that till you have completed the tree, there has to be some reason to go back right?

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Anniematilda
Anniematilda
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I must admit I got a bit of a shock this morning to see that so many of my skills had deteriorated. It was a lot to all come at once so I was rather relieved to find out why. Please can someone tell me if I have to go through the lessons again or is there a more efficient way of updating them? Thank you.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/quest42good
quest42good
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I went directly to each of my 15 decayed sections and practiced them, I think practicing immediately from the decayed sections updates the specific skills quicker. All in all it took me just a little over 200 points to turn all the decayed skills to gold again.

On a more comforting note to all those who discover their tree "withered" all of a sudden, I must admit that the decayed words and phrases were indeed the ones that had not shown up in my timed practice for quite a long time (except perhaps the Basics I and II, but I'm not sure). So, at the end of the day, the exercise was useful albeit a little time and work consuming.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Dessamator
Dessamator
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There are many ways, you could do the lessons again, or you could just do lesson practice. It will eventually pick up those words, and if you get them right your tree will be golden again.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/OldSpiceGuy
OldSpiceGuy
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It was a bit of a shock for me too - but I started running into a lot of words that I haven't seen in weeks or months, so apparently it's working better. I find that generally one or two practice sessions gets it back to gold.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Anniematilda
Anniematilda
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Thank you for your reply. Will the practice sessions take care of all the decaying words or will I still have to top up the lessons? I certainly need to practice but the temptation to steam ahead is very strong. Is there anywhere here that I can find an explanation on how the tree actually work and what the different colours mean?

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/OldSpiceGuy
OldSpiceGuy
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The colors just deal with they type of lesson - grammar is one color, nouns are another, and so forth. I've been hitting the practice sessions within the lessons themselves. Generally, one successful run through (or a couple timed sessions that make it through several words) is enough to put it back in gold. It won't hit every word, but it should be picking the ones that it thinks you need most.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Anniematilda
Anniematilda
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Thank you both for your help and advice. My intention now is to do some lesson practice every day instead of just trying to steam ahead with new skills. Having tried some of my decaying skills it is very obvious that I need a lot more practice. :)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Dessamator
Dessamator
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I thought we would get a Custom Practice or a nifty little vocabulary game (just joking). Anyway, the changes are much appreciated. Hopefully we'll see some new vocabulary tools to help learn in the future.

Edit: I noticed my vocabulary is behaving well, might it have anything to do with the long period of time I haven't practised seriously or done any lessons?

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/quest42good
quest42good
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I see 15 of my French skills decay overnight, so I suppose I'm on the new system. All I can say, I'm rolling up my sleeves and starting to practice.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/clearlywhite

Working MUCH better. Thank you so much!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/kupocake

From a language learning standpoint, this change is pretty necessary. HOWEVER, may I suggest that the algorithm for the general "Lesson Practice" be tightened up so that when used, it's far more likely to target words in need of practice? Especially on the mobile version. I've lost count on the number of times I've seen, "la madrugada" (dawn) over and over.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/_pinkodoug_
_pinkodoug_
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The lesson practice link is supposed to draw words from your vocabulary that have the lowest strength. When all words are 4 bars, this changes and words that have the oldest "last practiced" date are chosen. You can see both of these lists by viewing your vocabulary and sorting the table appropriately. In my experience, it does exactly this, but there have been issues with words degrading too quickly or too slowly that result in those words repeatedly showing up in practice sessions more often than they should. Hopefully the change that Tatou describes above will correct that problem.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/anachron

This update was sorely needed, I hope it works as intended. As I already had around 170 words that had started to decay, I don't really mind the drops in skill strength that others are complaining about.

However, there is one minor issue: I had removed a number of words from practise just because they came up repeatedly. I would like do add them back in, but after this change I cannot find them neither at the top nor at the bottom of the vocab list (sorted by word strength). Before this change they would all float down to the bottom because of their decaying strength.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/tatou
tatouPlus
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I'll see if we can add an icon to the practice page to indicate which ones you've removed...

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/anachron

Great! While you're rooting around in there: it would be helpful to see a count of how many words we need to practise (or how many practise sessions are needed).

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/tatou
tatouPlus
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Now in the vocab page: a red "X" icon shows up next to words that you've removed from practice, so you can more easily find them and re-add to practice, if you want.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/anachron

That's great! Thanks for the quick resolution :)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jm_lewis

Since the change I've been able to keep my tree consistently gold for the first time since finishing it. I don't know yet if that's a good thing or bad thing--there's a lot of verb tense stuff that I continue to struggle with, but the review sessions have been (as always) quite heavy on drinking water or milk and eating bread or rice, with the occasional cerveza thrown in.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Cold4Yu

How do we know if are account is switched to the new word strength system other than the vocab strength changes? I didn't really notice any, but I'm not sure.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/_pinkodoug_
_pinkodoug_
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I had almost 140 words degrade from full strength since he announced this, so I assume that's the sign that I've been switched to the new system. You should be able to see when you've been switched by keeping an eye on your vocabulary list sorted by strength from weakest to strongest.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/olimo
olimo
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I don't see any difference (all the skills are still gold), but I guess I know most of the skills really well, so I can't say I'm disappointed :-) My friend, though, finally has some skills decayed - I've long wondered if they would ever decay provided that he almost never practices and is not an expert in German at all.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Dessamator
Dessamator
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Tatou said:

"olimo is one of the users in our experiment who already have the new model"

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Bellatrix86

This is great. Thank you for still working on it and making improvements.
It will probably take a little time until all our words are in the new repetition cycle and we don't feel flooded anymore but I think in the long term this will work much better then before.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/SD-77
SD-77
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"Sudden changes in word/skill strength." Understatement of the year. 30 of my 66 or so skills just went from gold to whatever color OVERNIGHT!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/mbagnall
mbagnall
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Thanks very much for this change, tatou.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ced1310
ced1310
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Agree with the last part of the comment. At first I thought it was because I was tired, but no, they are getting harder, even when I return to the basics. Good work.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/GHJUYT

I know it's a little off topic, but is there any way to have longer practice sessions? Or perhaps have practice sessions where you can't peek at words. It gets very simple just to peek at words and copy them, rather than learning from my mistakes.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Jsprwstr
Jsprwstr
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Well, this explains why I've had to practice my lessons so much the last couple days.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/DuncAlistair

Ah, this explains why yesterday I had all gold skills in the German tree, and today I had 30 that needed practice (including 4 or 5 that were at only 2/4 bars)! Since I finally finished the tree yesterday, I thought this was maybe a change in response to that, but maybe I need the practice anyway. So the idea is to get the spaced repetition happening faster on newer words?

This is honestly a good idea, because there are loads of the supposedly 1800 words I know in German that I do not feel like I have a good grasp of. In the long term, shouldn't there be a count of how often a word has been used in each of the various contexts it can be used, and in what way (eng-ger, ger-eng, and whether it's selecting the word pre-formed, or having to recall and write it without help). I don't know how transparent the algorithm for this is, but to me this seems the only way to determine whether someone has actually achieved mastery of a word -- they have used the word in all contexts successfully in both directions of translation multiple times over the course of a space repetition algorithm for say at least 3 months. Sure, it's complicated and essentially requires that someone do at least a certain amount of practice absolutely every day, but a comprehensive setup like that is the only way. Is that the way this update is headed? If so, perhaps a slower rollout would have upset people a little less ;) (though I don't really mind, I need the review!)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/chibi_usa

I was wondering why in a few hours I got 16 skills decayed but I suppose I got the new word strength change. Honestly, it was a little disheartening to see I have to redo so many lessons (or refresh them) making moving onto new lessons even harder. I would have found it reasonable to see like 4 or 5 but 16 is a little much (at least for me) to handle.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/isabelsimoes

I think they are decaying too fast! If I want to keep my three gold I will never manage to advance to new lessons.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Goran12
Goran12
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In my vocabulary list, when I have the "last practiced" view, "de" is there as at full strength and practiced few minutes ago. In "strength", it looks as though it was last practiced 3 days ago, at just two levels of strength (of four). Where's the problem?

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/maynard42

Basics 1 in Italian for me shows 3 bars. Clicking on it shows lessons 2 and 3 with 3 bars, but selecting view full vocabulary from lesson 1, and then sorting by word strength shows no word that needs practice.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/pdquinn1
pdquinn1
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When I logged in to Duo this morning I thought I must have hit my head on the headboard last night. All of the overnight decay on my tree could only be explained by some sort of head trauma. I am relieved to learn that I am ok and just need a little more practice.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/duelingmonkey

Can't wait for this! :D

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/check2012

For the most part, I like this. I love that I'm actually getting some skills to decay (as they should!), but there's almost too many skills decaying that I lose motivation having to do so many skills each day, plus new ones, just to make progress. But learning a language isn't easy, and Duolingo shouldn't give us the false notion that words don't need to be seen again to stick in our memory.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/yahha
yahha
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First skills in my tree don't decay. I'm really excited that now the system better understands which skills to improve. I completely agree with the changes!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/JuliaTransue

why do my strength bars for scarpa and camica NEVER GO UP??!?! i just practiced them and they still are overdue, and say one week ago! DUOLINGO!!! PLEASE!!!! FIX!!! THIS!!!!

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Mokurai
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There are many words that I have practiced recently that are still marked Overdue--Last practiced over a year ago

And four marked over three years ago.

I can live with decay, but this is ridiculous.

2 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Richard259225

I have words that show weak and when I practice them they do not get stronger. Also I do not get credit for words if they are not in the correctly category. For example 3 years ago i got credit for zii. It never shows up under family. It does occur under business but i do not get credit. Will this update fix it?

1 week ago