Improvement idea, and possible bugs report
The online duolingo has a few bugs that would be nice if fixed.
I've noticed that when a typo is made, but the word containing a typo is an existing word, it is not checked for a possible typo. Example, if you should translate "cat" and translate "car" instead, it would be considered an error (and it is), while it is a clear typo (and it also is), considering that "t" and "r" are next to each other on the keyboard, so the typo is very likely to happen, especially if typing on a small screen smartphone.
It also happens on a PC and smartphone (especially considering low-end android smartphones) that a pronunciation check "hangs" and can not be passed for a while, usually resulting with a must exit application (or refresh the page on a PC) so you won't wait for an eternity. This will normally freak you out, especially if you are at some of the last questions, and having enough hearts to pass the test.
On a PC it happens that a "Type what you hear" questionnaire does not say anything, resulting in a "must skip it" and loose a life - also frustrating.
The problem is, I can't define any special cases or occasions when these bugs happen. All the info I can help you with, is that I use a ZTE Kis Lite smartphone with only Viber and Duolingo installed aside of the factory default software. And the PC I use is an Acer Aspire 5101 ANWLMI laptop (re-configured with an AMD Turion 64 TL-60 2.GHz dual-core CPU, 3 GB DDR2), and a Windows 7 32-bit Ultimate OS, the system is tested virus-free by Kingston 2012 Cheetah SP5.7 Free Antivirus with newest virus definitions.
Example, if you should translate "cat" and should translate "car" instead, it would be considered an error, while it is a clear typo,
Clear according to who? How is a program, or person, that is testing you on both the words car and cat supposed to know it wasn't a genuine mistake? If I was marking someone who made that mistake I would mark it wrong.
So do I, if it's hand-written, but when it's typed on a keyboard, it can easily be a typo. I agree it's a bit messy to make it clear if it's a typo, or a real mistake, but to me personally, it happened a number of times as a typo. While I clearly knew the words, I miss-typed them (on a smartphone on-screen keyboard). I'm not saying this is a bug, but I suggest an increased intelligence of the DuoLingo application. I also understand the caption of the post says "Bug fixes needed" but... I do make mistakes some-times ;)
UPDATE: There, I fixed the caption ;)
It can easily be a typo, I'm not disputing that. But I don't see how it would be possible in general to distinguish the two, for person or computer. And so I don't understand how you think an "increased intelligence" would help.
I guess the fundamental difference in our positions might be that I think it's not possible to distinguish them so worst interpretation should be assumed and it marked wrong, whereas you're willing to give the benefit of the doubt and have it marked correct. Don't know that there's a way to resolve those two positions though. :P
I write test questions as part of my job, and it's very hard to come up with all the possible typos someone might make! I do try to include the most common, but still, someone is going to find a new one.
You can always "report an error" and say your answer should be expected because it is a typo. Ultimately though, I usually take those lost hearts with a grouse and a reminder that I need to double-check my spelling.
OK, so here is an idea, but it's not for question writers, but for programmers, so pass it on ;)
When there is a mistake in only one letter of the word, it should be checked if it's in gravity (next to in any way) of the correct letter on a keyboard.
p.s. Don't get me wrong, I'm just proposing a very interesting feature that no other app has, and it's relatively easy improvement of the AI ;)
The cat/car typo has happened so many times to me. My phone uses Swype, which apparently thinks I mean "car" no matter how clearly I make "cat." It gives me the option to change it, but I often forget that it does this until I get marked wrong for saying that the car is eating a bird.
I've typed "te" so many times instead of "the" that my phone thinks that's what I mean now! In all circumstances when I'm typing "the" it will change to "te."
I've installed the Spanish keyboard on my phone and have found that I make fewer autocorrect errors in Duolingo now. Unfortunately, the "te" is a bigger problem. :)
Anyway, autocorrect, it's a nuisance sometimes.
Guys, I'm not saying the app should have an intelligence of a human... I'm just saying that when there is a wrong word typed, it should check for similarity to the correct one, and if it's similar, it should check if the mistake is correlated to a neighboring letter on the keyboard. If the mistake is correlated to a neighboring letter, it should ask you if you are sure about the word, and if you'd like to correct it. To make it more fun, it could even randomly pop up that dialog even when you have a correct word typed, to check if you are sure ;) Of course the word shouldn't be taken as a correct translation when it's miss-typed, but it could give you a chance to correct it. If you don't know the correct word, it won't help, but if you do, even if you typed "cat" by intention, instead of "car", and you figure out the correct answer, it helps you learning. I understand this is not very easy to implement as it looks on the first look (at least there are a lot of different keyboard layouts), but on the other hand it's not very hard, and I believe it will also help learning.
This may get more attention from the Duolingo team if you move it to the Troubleshooting discussion forum.