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  5. We need forum pre-requisites.


We need forum pre-requisites.

I was bored at work today and was thumbing through the forums and there was just an absolutely inordinate amount of topics that are "DUOLINGO IS AWESOME11!!!oneone" or "I'M LEVEL 2 IN SPANISH, DUOLINGO IS COOL" or "WRITE DOWN WHAT DUOLINGO CAN IMPROVE ON" from some guy who also was level 2. While those are ok in small amounts, over the course of the day there were about 10+ of them. The community usually downvotes them pretty quickly but the forums here have really been getting out of hand. I wonder if setting a pre-requisite of having to be level 4 in a language would solve the problem.

I really don't think anything in the 1-4 range of levels is difficult enough to require assistance or extra material. I know this has likely been requested before but I really do enjoy these forums and I spend a good portion of the day haunting them when I take breaks at work or after getting home and winding down. Therefore I want to see them be at the best they can be.

Would it really hurt the corporate plan to make a level requirement of 4+ to get on the forums to contribute? We'd cut down on so much spam.

February 25, 2016



It's better than it was.

I'd be in favor of an autoscript that refused to post anything with the word "lingot" in the title though. ;)


You earned a lingot for that comment :D
I couldn't resist.


An autoscript might be the answer, but in order to keep the forms as awesome as they are it would need to be pretty complex. This is yet another feature that would be awesome but the developers probably don't have time for.


Yeah, I was kind of just joking. But seriously...half the clutter is from lingot beggars.


What even is the point of these lingots..I mean really.


I second that request.


One also needs to remember that sometimes the "spam" posts come from kids, sometimes not knowing any better. Maybe there should be an age requirement to post on the forums (but not to use Duolingo as a learning site)?


I think that this point is quite important. This is probably the only website I use with any frequency that has lots of kids around, and I bet that is true of many others here (except facebook, I guess). Kids interact differently. They are more likely to post "Hey, look at me" or "What do you guys think" kinds of posts. They are also more likely to chime into serious conversations with comments like "I don't know" or with guesses, instead of waiting for people who actually know the answers.

This isn't an attack on kids, but it certainly influences the tone of the forum. I'm not sure what the solution is. For me, I think the general "Duolingo" feed is basically useless. I find much more interesting stuff in the language specific feeds, and in the sentence discussions.


It is not easy to verify age. Currently, Duolingo doesn't even require a valid e-mail address.


True, that definitely presents a problem for restricting the forums from younger users.

That said, my thought is there are many kids accessing the forum through the Duolingo for Schools program, and I'm pretty sure that Duo can tell who they are. I'm also going to guess they're begging for lingots because their teacher has tied some kind of grade-based reward to lingots. It's the only reason I can think of for why someone would be so desperate for lingots (which are otherwise useless).

So, Duo could make the forum inaccessible for Duolingo for Schools users. It's hard to see why kids at school should really be on the forums anyway. If they have a question, they ought to be asking their teacher.

I've also noticed that children on here (and by children, I mean like 12 year olds or so) who aren't doing it because their teacher is making them tend to be very polite. This is probably because they're self-motivated and genuinely trying to learn a language and not just looking for a way to mess around at school. I'm pretty sure it's the schoolkids posting crazy stuff like "Does anyone actually LIKE being on Duolingo??? WHY???" Anyone who wasn't forced to be here would clearly not post that.

So yeah, I might be wrong about this, and if I am someone should feel free to point it out, but I think that preventing Duolingo for Schools users from accessing the forums would solve the spam problem without punishing any kids at home who are here to learn and have honest questions.


Sounds good, a class could have their own private forum that only they and their teacher could see and their teacher would be their moderator. If they had any questions the teacher couldn't handle she could come to the regular forums as their proxy.


If I was a parent or teacher I think I would definitely prefer that kind of system! That's a great idea.


That sounds like a great idea!


Spamming by "kids" was already present in the forums prior to the existence of schools.duo. This part of Duo surely amplified the phenomenon but there was already plenty of it before.
At least that's what I remember of the forums back at that time.

I'm also going to guess they're begging for lingots because their teacher has tied some kind of grade-based reward to lingots. [...]
So, Duo could make the forum inaccessible for Duolingo for Schools users. [...] If they have a question, they ought to be asking their teacher.

I think it's good to point out that there is a responsibility of the teacher about all that. And that they should not only use don't forget to use their ability to block the use of forums and stream by their students but also monitor their use of Duo.
To help them, I think (and it has already been suggested to Duolingo) that mods could have a button "report behaviour to teacher" on a profile (maybe with the "block the user" existing button) that once clicked would send a notification to the teacher's account "this user has been reported by moderators for unfitted behaviour on Duo forums".

Now, blocking forums entirely to account with a teacher account, maybe not.
They could at very least have reading rights on Sentence Discussion when accessed from during an exercise.
But I really believe that the majority of kids with a teacher (like the ones without, as you mentioned) do behave correctly on forums, so blocking them all is maybe not the solution IMO.


I completely agree. Most of the nonsense seems to be from school kids.


I'm only a recent user, but I too am already sick of messages letting us know it's their first day, or first week, or they've just levelled up, or Duolingo is awesome.

Can people like that just tell their friends? The Duolingo world doesn't need a post by someone to tell them that the site is good. I think most of us already know.


Few months ago there wasn't even any requirement. So progress has been made.
Duo probably now needs time and to test to find a good equilibrium between "more requirement" and "users not being in the impossibility to ask valid language related-questions".

P.S.: Personally, I also imagine that a little more requirement would, from a global point of view, be better. But it's just guessing.


Oh that's fantastic! I didn't realize there were requirements currently, what are they?


Indices in your OP. ;)


I really feel like there should be separate boards for the classrooms.

Not only is this forum constantly get spammed once they hit level two but the troubleshooting forum has seen an increase in this stuff from the ones who just logged in and haven't bothered to do any actual language work at all.

If the kids that sign on through classrooms were kept on boards monitored by the teachers then they could decide how much chit chat to allow and how much should be strictly for language purposes.

It would cut back alot. Especially when they all log on at the same time spam for a while with silly posts then go away. They are not learning languages when they spend their time in here and they are not interacting with the community as a whole.


Another suggestion, a "beginners" forum for new users where they can post and ask questions until they reach level 2. Until then they can view other discussions but can only post to the beginners forum. Advanced users could uncheck or not subscribe to the beginners forum and not have to see the mundane posts. A moderator could be assigned just to work with the beginners. The same thing could be done with the classroom users who are being "forced" to do Duolingo for school.

Or (as suggested earlier in this discussion...)

A forum for "advanced" users who would either have to reach a certain level to participate or "pay" in lingots to post to the forum.


Like a cordoned-off "kiddie pool" in the shallow end.


Yes, but make it level 4 or 5 at least. Even at level 5, the fact is that one knows very little of the language, and also one has not been on Duolingo that long. A level 2 threshold is essentially meaningless.


at level 5, [...] one knows very little of the language

And thus has a lot of questions about the language, the culture etc.
Preventing them from being able to ask them may not be a good idea: there may be some new/never asked questions among them (of course, an incentive to search before asking would be useful too).


I'd prefer they just waited 7 days to give new accounts Forum posting privs. That makes it easier for the student, and it also means that banned people can't just get another account and resume trolling in 15 minutes.


Unfortunately there is an easy way of overcoming any reasonable waiting period.


These junk threads tend to be in the general 'duolingo' forum, which is not designed for specific questions about particular languages or for troubleshooting. So why not make posting rights on the general forum something that can be bought with lingots? A price of 10 (or maybe 20) lingots would ensure that new users will have actually used duolingo a bit before they are able to post such potentially irrelevant things (and, having used it more, their posts are more likely to be relevant).

The individual language forums and troubleshooting would remain open to all users as they are now.

People are always complaining about the uselessness of lingots; this would be a good use for them. It would also give new users a meaningful incentive to learn rather than just chat.


I agree! 5 lingots as a posting fee. And if people know that it costs lingots to make a post, they will be more likely to give lingots to good posters, to give them their lingots back.

Most of the spammy posters seem to place a high value on lingots. Good idea.


I was suggesting a flat fee for unlimited posting rights, although what you say might also work.


So why not make posting rights on the general forum something that can be bought with lingots?

IMO, with such "lingots" fees you'll very likely have the General forum even more filled (than currently, even if repetitive ones are either hide by downvotes or delete by mods) of posts asking for lingots.

The individual language forums and troubleshooting would remain open to all users as they are now.

There are currently already (since few months ago) a little restriction on all forums except TBS forums.

It would also give new users a meaningful incentive to learn rather than just chat.

I wonder if the recent "no stream" A/B test wasn't about that. ;)


IMO, with such "lingots" fees you'll very likely have the General forum even more filled (than currently

Part of the thinking behind my suggestion was that most of the lingot-begging comes from users who have just started; under this proposal those people wouldn't be able to beg in the general forum initially and could only earn lingots by doing courses—then, they could choose to spend their lingots on acquiring posting rights. Once they have posting rights, lingots would be no more valuable to them than they are now. I think this would reduce lingot-begging, not increase it: lingots would only by worth more to the very people who couldn't clutter up the forum with begging posts.


It has been my experience that Duolingo has the friendliest discussion site of any I have ever encountered, and, as you say, it is enjoyable to scroll through when one is taking a break. It could well be that newcomers are "testing out" the site by making a posting- and a few kind members often pause to wish them a welcome, which surely reinforces their opinion that this is a good place to be. I rarely take the time to do that myself anymore, but it takes almost no time to scroll past such entries to pause at what does interest me. I think this site is still growing partly because of our tolerance for such postings. I would hate to see newcomers excluded in any way.


I agree with most of your sentiments, with two exceptions, I don't think tolerance for spam is generating growth, and some newcomers need to be excluded from the Discussion until they learn what is appropriate for this forum(which has rules and expectations that most other forums do not). It is better when people can learn the rules and expectations without being confronted by a moderator or a "helpful" user.

And downvoting needs to go, the community has obviously not been responsible with those.


I agree, I'm not bothered at all by the posts but I can see how some could be annoyed.

.A lot of the new people making these "hi" posts are very young as well and wouldn't know any better and wouldn't bother to read the guidelines if they knew they were there. I think they could have to take a short duolingo style quiz with the general rules in it. Just several little multiple choice questions that could them know what is acceptable.

What is a good post to make?

A. "hi"

B. spam

C. A discussion in your target language about how cool Elmo is, asking for help with your grammar.


It has been suggested that Duo make the "introductory tour" required for all new accounts and that it includes some test questions like this.


I just thought of something, many times if you see a "hi" post and you respond, it turns out they were not spamming but they were creating a post hoping to practice English and you end up having a nice little conversation. They just lack the skills or confidence to create a non-spammy headline. Maybe the basic skill or the introductory tour could address this so they don't get deleted or yelled at.


Good point! I try to always respond to those if they are from an English learner. Likewise I try to always respond to the "Hola" posts if they are from a Spanish learner.


I agree with you wholeheartedly. Thanks for your thoughtful post!


Perhaps, a discussion forum for those who are new to Duolingo.


There's really nothing for those new to duolingo to discuss pre level 4. I'd be open to allowing them to the troubleshooting forums solely.


Which displace the "issue" on TBS forums which are, in a sense, even less meant for that than "General" forums. ;)


People seen to find things - often quite legitimate questions - to discuss in the troubleshooting section before level 2. In fact, that's the time when people might need help negotiating Duolingo at a very basic level. In the past few weeks, for instance, several people have posted because they've misidentified the lessons as tests and want to know where the lessons are.


Thanks for your refreshing comments!


Also, new users are sometimes thrown for a loop by very basic things, like the fact that nouns are, in many languages, gendered and might have questions/comments regarding those.


Why not set the bar at level 12? I'd be open to allowing pre level 12 participants sole access to the troubleshooting forums.

In other words, your suggestion to set the posting level at four is arbitrary and discriminatory. I have read many valid posts from new members, and have seen numerous garbage posts from more experienced participants on this site.


For information: such limit already exist at 2 (not 4).


For your information: I already know that. My posting was a direct response to GrandaArso's reply to Lemarzetta above, but which you may have interpreted as an independent suggestion because of the numerous previous replies by other members in this subthread.


I totally agree. But for all the new people on Duolingo that can't operate this website, we should have a subcategory where they can post for help.


it wouldn't be better than it was. Spammers will always find a way to spam. Also, as others have mentioned, it's actually not as bad as it used to be most days.


My concern is that level 4 would just become a new milestone/reason to spam. I think we would start to see titles like: "Just reached level 4" or "Obligatory level 4 post. Upvotes please!" or "My first post!!!11!!1"


There is indeed no perfect solution.
That's why, IMO, Duo has to find a good equilibrium between "restriction" to limit (not avoid totally) and "ability to ask valid questions' (=Duo or language-related)" for maximum of users whatever the user's level is.
Maybe the current level2 restriction is already the best equilibrium, maybe not.


Probably many of the less serious users drop out before they reach level 4 and the more serious users, are, I suspect, less likely to generate lots of spam. That said, the opportunity for a little encouragement or interaction might, for some people, make the difference between continuing with a language or giving up on it - it would be a shame for Duolingo to lose such people due to not providing an option that would allow them to seek interaction and encouragement.


You make some very valid points!


Agree - as I type I'm level 12 German, and even then I feel I'm a neophyte who mostly needs to stay on the sidelines and read notes and learn more, rather than jump in with criticisms and complaints. (To be clear, we're talking about the general forum discussions here - obviously for each individual Skill on a tree, even Skill #1, people should be able to ask skill-specific questions.)


The problem is only going to increase as Duolingo continues to grow and expand. I would love to see a "New User" forum for new accounts where a person can learn about Duolingo discussion boards. A place where the patterns for Guidelines, FAQs, etc can be introduced to new users, because being a good user in the discussion forums is different than being a good user with the app. Everytime a new person comes to the discussion forums they are hit with a lot of info to learn and absorb. I watch people asking the same questions over and over trying to understand, learn, and navigate the website. By providing a moderated discussion forum where everything they need to learn is there and accessible without a lot of "noise", it would prevent the problems both from the new users perspective and the other users perspectives. It would ease up the overload of the forums with that type of "spam" post. Then when a user hits an appropriate level (after a 3-5 skill sets) they would automatically gain access to all discussion forums. Right now new users are thrown into discussions with a sink or swim method, and each user interface is different. Why continue to "reinvent the wheel" over and over again with each new user as it doesn't benefit them, the other users, nor the moderators. Experienced users would be able to assist and easily find those who need a helping hand. Give new users a safe place until they have advanced enough to make it past the initial learning cuve of navigating Duolingo, IMHO.:-)


where a person can learn about Duolingo discussion boards. A place where the patterns for Guidelines, FAQs, etc can be introduced to new users

Such places quite already exist, IMO: I think that most of the answers are already either in the General and Troubleshooting forums or in the support page (for those who understand English, but we're mainly speaking about the General (English) forum being filled with new users already answered questions).
With a dedicated forum it'd be, IMHO, the same issue -> if new users don't search before ask, it'll be a repetition of the same questions. And if it's a separate forum less "experienced" users will be subscribed to where the questions are asked and thus they'll have even less answers.

when a user hits an appropriate level (after a 3-5 skill sets) they would automatically gain access to all discussion forums.

It's already the case. ;)


Yes, but the point is to "gather" that all in one spot together, while keeping other distractions out long enough for learning to take place in a speeded up concentrated way.It's a reality that a problem exists, and that there are also some good ideas in this discussion thread. The problem will continue to grow as Duolingo grows, so why not try something else to benefit the new users? I'm still hunting down info, and learning to navigate and I would love a new users forum to ask Newby questions in.

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