Suggestion: Vote for best translations in lessons
In common (I think) with many, I sometimes find that the 'correct' answers in my native language are not always the best translation for the sentence. I'm sure that other native language speakers may also feel the same. Whilst they can be reported, often the result is that the best translation is an accepted alternative, but the less accurate answer remains as the correct answer. For example, the subtle difference between 'talking' and 'speaking' in sentences.
At the moment, you can only see the one correct answer, so only find other acceptable answers via trial and error. With more languages coming on board via the incubator, as well as the existing languages, it would be nice to have a review section or a setting, where all accepted answers are shown for a sentence, and the best translation can be voted for by the community, particularly the native speaker. I think that it would help improve/maintain the quality of translations and iron out quickly any errors in the database. It would also be a useful way to see the different ways of saying the same thing. I think that it would also have a positive knock-on effect in the quality of the translations in immersion as learners will become more able to accurately translate the meaning rather than the words.
It depends what you mean by native language - English or American? Brazilian or Portuguese?, Spanish from Spain or from the New World?
I would like to be able to set the translation mode to my language (English, not American) and not be forced to call Christmas baubles "balls" so as not to lose a heart, nor use euphemisms when referring to toilet facilities, and be repeatedly told that I am wrong when I use correct English as the queen might speak it.
But I really don't mind that there are multiple correct answers. There are multiple versions of English. It's just annoying when my correct version is not accepted and I have to pretend to be American to get through the lesson.
Point taken but still think that it would be useful. I grudgingly accept that the Americanised database will always provide pants instead of trousers etc., but as long as it's just a transposition of a word, and the alternative is accepted, I can live with that. I always report such issues so that the database is fixed. It was more about the meaning of sentences in general.
To use the example in my original post, there is a difference in meaning between talking and speaking. Other languages have different words for speaking and talking/saying too, but the translation generally accepts both, even though it can change the meaning. That is the key point that I wanted to get to, that the answer is acceptable but it may not be the best way to say it in the language. Allowing the community to choose the most correct translation, i.e. meaning, can only enhance the tutorials. I do not mean that alternatives should be removed, only that the 'correct' answer shown is the best translation as voted by the community. What I do not know, is whether there are other 'bad' translations that would be acceptable that should be removed. seeing accepted answers may show that.
In foreign languages, I may write an answer that is acceptable, but I will always look to the answer as being the best way that something is said in that language, learning a better way of saying the same thing. As I know that the English answer provided may not always the best one, I can only think that the same may be true of the other languages. Sometimes you do see this in the sentence discussions, but not always. That's why I was trying to think of a simple fun way of quality management.
Odd that this suggestion has gotten (at least) two down votes and only one comment. Not very constructive.
I think it would be very helpful to see multiple acceptable answers for a question. Currently you can only see one or two answers (the one you put and the alternative one that DL suggests if it doesn't like yours the best). You do have the option of going into the discussion area for the question and putting "it also accepted 'blah blah blah'" if you like, so in a way we have that capability but it is inconsistent, incomplete, and time consuming.
I'm not sure how I feel about the idea of voting for the best answer. As has been noted, there are differences in a language from country to country and even within regions of the same country. But I do for sure like the idea of being able to see other acceptable responses after you've answered the question.
Thanks for the helpful link Dessamator. That's certainly a LOT of accepted phrases, so would indeed exponentially complicate work! Perhaps then, a simpler option to implement the suggestion could be an additional tickbox in the report button option with Best native translation or similar. Then if enough people reported the same best translation, that would become the preferred/correct answer. That may minimise effort involved in such an undertaking (but will not harp on about it - the suggestion is now out there for the powers to be to decide).
Don't get me wrong, Duo is a brilliant concept and the team should be applauded for the fantastic efforts in 'realising a dream'. I just want it to continue to be the best, in terms of teaching and quality. If a manageable solution to an issue can be addressed early, they don't become too big to manage/implement as the database grows. My suggestion has really come about with the forthcoming massive expansion of the new community sourced languages. I have been doing the reverse tree in Dutch - I have some knowledge from when I worked there (but would not be confident enough on the Dutch side), so I can help to report any obvious errors. Some of the English translations are a bit literal, possibly a bit more so than in the already released languages. I know that reported changes are made, and answers made acceptable, but I haven't yet (and I may well be wrong) seen the 'correct' answer change (all languages).
Still a fabulous job by the Duo & Dutch team though - I don't want to detract anything from everyone's efforts.
From what I've read, there are more than two ways of translating anything. But two of them are popular. One way is literal, and the other is natural.
Those translations that don't look natural (literal), may have purposely been left that way to aid novices understand a possible translation, and perhaps to prevent them from being frustrated by having to put themselves in the minds of native speakers and speak the way they would. Later on the users gradually get used to it and learn the more natural ones.
So I believe literal or unnatural translations have their place in Duolingo, and help non-natives learn faster, without the frustrations of always guessing how to translate naturally. As such, I believe the voting will skew the results to whatever region most users come from, unless measures are taken to prevent that. In fact, good translations will be automatically voted (by the system) when users get them right often, and downvoted when there is an excessively high failure rate of people answering a particular lesson incorrectly. Anyway, your idea may work too, time will tell.
I really like your idea. I often have writen something like "Please delete x from the database, because y." when I found a sentence in my native tongue that just didn't work. You could have a system like the one for the comments - the translations are then ordered by the votes and the best is on the top.
Additionally I would welcome the report button outside the lessons, so that I can go through the forum discussions and report mistakes.