Suggestion: Sidebar chat

Hi everyone! I just thought about this; is there any chance that there will be a sidebar chat? A live chatbox where we can ask questions or just chat for fun while doing lessons. Say, a different "chat room" for different languages. Personally, I think it would be very helpful not just for learning, but also to increase interaction with fellow learners.

Perhaps a downside is requiring moderation.

What do you think?

EDIT: Here is a summary of the discussion. Everyone has given a lot of really good suggestions! While not all have to be included; I know some could be rather difficult in implementation. But I don't want to simply dismiss the ideas either. I'll be updating this whenever I can.

WHAT: Sidebar chat

PURPOSE: Small talk, under the premise that live chat will help us improve more quickly.

FEATURES: - At least one chat room per language.

  • Users have the ability to make private chat rooms [Timsgood], specially with friends/followers [ZacharyWes4]

  • Multiple chat rooms per language [miacomet]. Include cap for number of users per chat room.

  • [chaered] points out that there has been past initiative in video group chat.


  • Minimum age for chat [zakblak] I'd say around 12 years old? What's a good number?


  • prevent sending a message over and over [JonathanFa3728]

  • Limit number of messages per user per minute [JonathanFa3728]

  • Give moderators power to silence people in chat

  • I think the age limit suggested earlier would fall under here too

  • Block option for individual users [cgolubi1]


  • I know duo badly needs staff, so I suggest to give a few users/volunteers chat moderator status

Minimum requirements for moderators:

  • should be known to be helpful (maybe can check past comments)

  • should be dedicated. Maybe a minimum streak

  • quite obviously, should know the language . Maybe should have finished the tree.

November 5, 2015


You could have diferent chat rooms for diferent languadges public and private (with friends)

November 5, 2015

I think this has potential, but I see a problem: if there is a single en->es chat room, for example, there could be literal thousands of people on it at a given point in time, and it would be impossible to have much of a real conversation... Perhaps smaller chat rooms or PMing would be useful. Then people could also make interest groups, e.g. for languages not yet taught on Duo.

November 5, 2015

If the number proves to be too large then multiple chat rooms would definitely be important. Or maybe there could be a limit on the number of people in chat rooms.

Hmm, interest groups. That's a fresh take on this. Pretty cool.

Well, I realized my suggestion could easily get off-track from the goal of learning. It might become hard to differentiate between learning through chat and just hanging out. But I still think it's worth a try.

November 5, 2015

I definitely would like this. I up-voted this post in hopes it gets more attention. :) It's hard to find people to practice German with.

The chat could have anti-spam features to prevent people from spamming the same thing over and over, or can send a certain amount of messages per minute.

November 5, 2015

Thanks! I'll be editing the main post now to compile all the ideas contributed

November 5, 2015

I'd be very interested in a real-time chat option. People are out of their comfort zones posting on forums in langauges they don't speak natively. Some people do, but not nearly as many as you might expect on a language-learning site (afaict). I know the ephemeral nature of RTC would encourage spam, but i think the symbolic difference between an ephemeral chat vs a permanent forum post, would encourage people to play around with actually trying to use the languages they're learning.

In terms of security options, if i were building this, i'd maybe start with a "block" option for individual users to hide all traffic from other individual users, and see how far that went? Duolingo is a big site, so my armchair design is worth very little here. :>) But RTC seems really valuable.

November 5, 2015

First remark: There is not a single chance that Duolingo will implement any of that.

Second remark: But given that a sidebar chat is quite independent from the rest of the Duolingo website, it is actually quite easy to implement one as a userscript. I actually just did a very simple proof of concept (with only one chatroom for now): (edited to have the right link)

Let’s try it :-) (the chat is in the lower-right corner, move the mouse there to have it appear)

November 5, 2015

That's an interesting idea! I can see it as a nice option for certain people (I'm more of a forum kinda guy). Maybe a chat for a certain group of people, one on one, a particular topic (like people just practicing greetings), etc. Having the chats searchable so people can find what they want.

Maybe if it was a group chat, it can be started by someone, and they can be the one banning people who are disruptive? And maybe certain people from Duolingo to moderate all the chats to make sure they are on topic (so we don't have hundreds of non-language chat topics that can flood the website).

November 5, 2015

I was thinking of 'global chat,' like the one in games. While they're not strictly language related, I mostly learned my English from small talk in those chat.

Oh, something like private chat rooms. I didn't think of that; I think that's a good idea too.

November 5, 2015

An additional safety precaution besides moderation might be a minimum age for chat.

November 5, 2015

Good point. I overlooked that.

November 5, 2015

I figured I'm not the first to think about this xD haha. I see some have already taken the initiative. Thanks for this!

I don't have skype though. I'm a typing kind of guy, even my spoken english isn't all that great. Truth be told, I thought of this to augment /my/ learning (shame on me), so my ideas are really restricted. I'm not used to them, but video chats might be just what I need. Maybe we could explore google hangouts too.

November 5, 2015

By the way, there is a #duolingo on, and i've been hanging out there for awhile to see if anyone will show up. I was actually thinking (before this thread) of scheduling an IRC meetup (like, at a specified time) to see if there's any interest in real-time chat there or elsewhere.

November 6, 2015

There's no live chat room, but there is a private discussion for each sentence when you do lessons.

November 5, 2015

Yes, I was just thinking it feels different when you live chat with another person

November 5, 2015

I see your point and can see how it could work but I fear that the troll and spam issue would be a bigger problem in the chat than it is already in the forums. It would require a ton of hardcore moderation to keep it from devolving into spam.

November 5, 2015

True. Maybe duo can crowdsource this and select active learners to be mods.

November 5, 2015

The potential to have a chat between people who you follow and that follow you is an option to prevent spam/bots. It also takes care of the large number issue, then people that want it can click on other usernames and request chat or group chat. Also have a large room for each language for quick help or on going bigger conversations not just practicing the specified language. A possible way of making the community more fluid and interactive.

November 5, 2015

Instead of a minimum age maybe 3 (or more) chatrooms for each language broken into age groups. That might make the discussions more relevant for the kids as well as safer.

For example: a tween chat, a high school chat, everyone else.

November 5, 2015

Please, no. Please, please, please, no. I make it a point to stay out of teen-only forums and chats on other websites, because of the...direction that they tend to take. Strangely, the dirtiest mouths I see usually belong to 13-15 year-olds... No offense to other teens (or your idea), but I much prefer chatting with adults. ;)

November 5, 2015

You do realize that it would be easier to avoid conversations with teens if the chat rooms were marked?

November 6, 2015

Okay, I was thinking that you meant people would ONLY be able to go in their own age range's room...Oops!

November 6, 2015

I wouldn't want to restrict anyone from chatting with people they are more comfortable with and maybe had more in common with.

I also noticed some people were concerned about safety of their children and were asking for a minimum age restriction.I would hate to discourage younger learners. I think a chat could be beneficial for them as well but maybe those parents would feel comfortable if there were groups that restricted older users from being in younger chat rooms instead of the other way around. Although that will be more difficult to implement.

November 6, 2015
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