https://www.duolingo.com/mndrix

Funding a Duolingo incubator language?

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Based on the Incubator FAQ thread (at https://www.duolingo.com/comment/1627314) adding a new incubator language requires substantial technical effort (speech synthesizers, voice recognizers, etc). I assume that's why some less popular languages can't be admitted into the incubator yet. As one example, Afrikaans has roughly 10 contributors wanting to help but is not yet allowed in.

Is it possible for the Duolingo community to donate money to offset these costs? Some languages have strong advocacy organizations. Could they donate money to bring their language into the incubator?

3 years ago

38 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/ConnorMaichle
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I think the Welsh government was involved with getting Welsh on here, but I may be mistaken.

I think it would be cool if you could donate money to Duolingo. They obviously make money somehow, but if people could donate like Wikipedia, that would be pretty cool. I'd be willing to donate 3 bucks, and if everyone did, imagine that!

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/iwc2ufan
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Yes, I'm pretty sure I read something about a Welsh Member of Parliament writing to Duolingo and that is part of why we will have it soon.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/swingbeatnik7
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That's really cool. So that makes three languages that I know of on DL with government agency assistance... Ukrainian, Swahili and Welsh.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/m.tastic
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Really? How did you find out?

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/mizinamo
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Not sure whether it's government agency but I believe the Ukrainian and the Swahili courses are related to Peace Corps courses teaching those languages, and at least the Swahili one is, I believe, done by Peace Corps volunteers.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/avrichard
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I think you're right - on a Reddit AMA with Luis von Ahn from about a year ago, he mentioned that the Ukrainian team were Peace Corp teachers.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/TheQueenZerelda

They should have a very optional not-in-your-face donate page maybe near the merch page. I would not mind donating (once I have some money).

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ConnorMaichle
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Yeah, wikipedia has the pop-ups, which I don't think we should have here. But there should be an option. I'd happily donate 3 bucks occasionally (once I have money lol, same as you)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/TheQueenZerelda

Yeah, no pop-ups. :)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jimnicholson
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"obviously make money somehow"

They have received $180 million in venture capital. This is what is keeping the lights on.

However, the test centre appears to be their new business model, but I haven't seen any figures from them about how well it is doing.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ConnorMaichle
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But venture capital cannot be a sole source of income, can it? I am no economical genius, so correct me if I'm wrong, but the way I understand it is venture capital is given by corporations to rising companies that they see a promising future in, but it has to be payed back, right?

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jimnicholson
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Sure, but often a start-up will pivot through several business models before either finding one that is successful or if they cannot find one, eventually being shutdown. A lot of services I have loved, have closed over the years, because they couldn't find a viable business model and the venture capital dried up. And for a lot of start-ups venture capital is their sole source of income - the idea being that they will figure out how to monetise the service later. It was years before Google, YouTube etc had any form of income - initially they were funded by venture capital only.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/DonFiore
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What about Duo's goal of saving endangered languages (which aren't usually as popular as big ones)? Or teaching languages spoken in poor areas? Or teaching languages to people in poor areas? Why do you think there are so many courses teaching English?

If Duo allowed people to donate money to start a course, we would probably get a lot of big languages to speakers of "rich" languages. Duo's goal is free language education to everyone. If Sara speakers (native to Chad and surrounding areas) need to learn French in order to get better jobs, they might not be able to afford a French for Sara speakers course.

If Duo decided to add it anyway, would the people who have donated perhaps large amounts of money complain that this course was added first? And if the added one was well-funded? How would people feel if they donated money and had to wait for years while courses with more money entered the incubator? Or would Duo just hire hundreds of new staff members to get all the languages with enough money started?

What about languages like Japanese with technical difficulties? Would they set a price tag to solving those difficulties? Would people complain how large amounts of money have been donated and nothing is happening?

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/SenorDustin
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I would pay $ in installments for Afrikaans, even if it were just from Dutch. Duolingo, please consider crowdfunding to get the courses we want and let that money come after a course that meets your standards is out of beta.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/swingbeatnik7
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I would freaking love Afrikaans.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ConnorMaichle
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Me too, I have a book for it, but haven't gotten into it yet. It's a very cool language :)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/SeptimusBones
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It seems very intriguing, especially the tenses and the double negative.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/no.name.42
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I think it's more the time necessary from staff which prevents many languages from being added, and not the monetary cost.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/mndrix
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Donations, if substantial enough, could hire additional staff. At least that's how I imagined it working.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/m.tastic
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Plus, most of the work is done by volunteers.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Sgt.Hammer
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Yes! How much for one more staff, for how many more languages? I am dreaming with you!

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jrikhal
Mod
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speech synthesizers, voice recognizers

It's not a problem of cost (Duo does implement those things) but:

  • for voices: to find a "decent" existing third-party TTS or, once conclude there was none, find one (and not several recording each some sentences) person "good“ enough in pronunciating the language which will be available for years to translate the sentences (from now and without end) as soon as one team teaching the language create a sentence. "decent" and "good" being evaluated by staff and coursecontributor.
  • for recognizers: find a "decent" one. If none... then course has no "speaking" exercises.

So it's just a question of time to find the good one, not of money.


Now, for my personal opinion, exactly all what DonFiore wrote. ;)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/KrazyKaderKat

Hmm, good question.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/enidkeaner
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That is such a good idea! I'd be happy to donate.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Pratyush.
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I don't know we heard that Duolingo is going to have 5 America's native language next year which has backing from White House.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jimnicholson
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5 "Endangered languages" not necessarily Native American languages.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/mndrix
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Do you have a link for this? I'd love to hear more about that announcement.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/DonFiore
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It doesn't exactly say all of them will be Native American but here's the link:
https://www.duolingo.com/comment/12249447

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Javret
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I would totally give duolingo $5 or something so that they could fund this. I would have to pay $250+ for any other courses, or i would even have to drive to the local college.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Sgt.Hammer
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What about Google? Doesn't google "own" Duolingo with the 40+ millions of dollars from Google Capital?

Oh c'mon don't downvote me amigos!

3 years ago
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