New test feature: Being able to make a small payment to ‘repair’ a broken streak on the iOS app

Recently in the toubleshooting forum, a user reported being presented with an offer similar to the one shown below after they had lost their streak.

After some discussion of whether it was a third party scam, indications were found in the website code that it was an official offer from duolingo and Luis then commented to confirm that it was a test they are now running on the iOS app.

The troubleshooting thread is here:

Luis' comment can be found at the top of that thread but I'll quote it here as well:

Hi everybody. I'm Luis, the CEO of Duolingo. This is a small test we are trying out on the iPhone app, precisely so we can offer education for free!

As we expand our operations to serve more and more users, we have to find ways to remain a viable company. We spend more than US$40,000 per day -- on developer salaries, server costs, etc.

The motivation for this test is that people email us every day asking for their streaks to be repaired because they forgot to practice the previous day. Many of them have offered to pay us for this, so we thought this was a feature we could offer to help us cover our costs without hurting the learning experience at all.

We will continue testing different ways to pay the bills, so long as they are compatible with our dream of being able to provide free language education to the world.

Bringing this into the general discussion forum as probably a lot of people don't regularly browse the troubleshooting forum and will be interested to learn of this development.

April 28, 2016


From my own perspective, I would be happy to donate a certain amount of money, even a certain amount each month, to contribute to Duolingo as it is a fantastic resource and I really enjoy learning with it, especially if those contributions would help in developing deeper and more comprehensive trees.

I for one quite like the 'game' style of the product (I use the iOS app exclusively for learning and the laptop for the forums) and I found Duolingo after spending money on other language learning systems which really didn't help me learn anything. I would have been better doing what I did before, that is, getting a text book out the library and never opening it - that's how helpful I found Babbel, but many others were equally as bland and uninspiring. Duolingo works for me so I would not want to see anything impact on that.

I do agree with other commentators that there are far better ways to introduce the monetary component and I also concur that 'cheapening the streak' with the purchase restoration somewhat dilutes the value of the streak as a learning incentive. For example, there's been many days that at 10pm I find myself not having done my 50xp for the day and I moan to myself but I do want to learn Italian and keep my streak so even although I am unmotivated, I will still find the will power to complete the 50xp knowing that I then have both actually learned or revised a little of the language that day and kept my streak. If I knew there was a pay option to repair my streak, I might be less inclined to find the motivation and this means that I lose both language learning practice and money, and all for a somewhat arbitrary streak - more arbitrary if people can pay to have streaks restored.

How about Duolingo starts off gently in this direction and puts a 'Donate' button on the site? That might raise more revenue than this somewhat gimmicky streak repair feature anyway and at the same time, honour and preserve the value of the streaks for the many dedicated learners who make sacrifices to safeguard their streaks.

April 29, 2016

Luis also stated it costs $40,000 a day to keep Duo up and running. that's over $14.5 million a year. And presumably this goes up as more languages are added and more people sign up. They have to find this money from somewhere, grants are great but loans need repaying and the whole thing needs to be future proofed and safeguarded as a resource for everyone.

I would be highly unlikely to pay for a streak repair, but hey, i have periods when I simply have no internet access. ( hospitals can be a problem) or the app connection is a bit glitchy, or its not appropriate to be on an electronic device - such as high holy days and funerals, and a single hour over a streak freeze can cost you a years worth of streak. So maybe, given i might have money to spare i might consider it. What harm does this do to a single other user? none whatsoever. This is a learning site that looks like a game, not an actual game, we are not in competition with each other. because i am not playing against anyone therefore the only person my alleged 'cheating' by repairing a streak could damage would be me. And that's on me, and only me.

The only thing i really worry about, apart from it possibly being the thin end of the wedge, is that the younger duo users will feel they ought to buy it and will possibly be using parents funds on things of no intrinsic value. Limits and safeguards need considering.

April 29, 2016

The potential issue isn't on this particular "pay to recover your streak case" (I think those who care for their streak will be happy and other will not care) but, IMO, the fact that it's a first step into freemium.
Once this step done, it's setting a precedent... where will it stop?

It may be a necessary thing, it may be that at the end Duo has no other ways to make Duo sustainable. But I personally think that things like a "donation button" (you don't pay for anything in return, you donate for whatever they want to do with it) could be done prior to this first step into premium-world (even if it's small and seem anecdotical) and see where it goes.

April 29, 2016

I'd happily pay for a version with a proactively-moderated Forum that wouldn't allow bored school kids to post a whole lot of nonsense that has to be cleaned up later, but required a serious participation (financially or in learning) to post.

April 29, 2016

They could probably raise the $40K a day buy charging a penalty every time someone posts about lingots. It might also clear up the spam quick.

April 30, 2016

That's deserves a dozen lingots ;-)

May 9, 2016

I think you're making a very good point. People are paying for a service with this feature (streak restoration) and once people start paying for things they may take on a different attitude to the provider of the service, that of an ‘entitled’ customer.

People's attitudes may change towards something they have donated funds to too, but I think the change is different and not that of someone who now thinks of themselves as a customer.

April 29, 2016


  • you pay for a service, your an "entitled" customer, so can start complying for "not having for your money" (with this first start, low risk, but who knows ;))
  • you donate, your an "entitled" donator... you have nothing more than maybe the right to be recognized as a donator. ;)
April 29, 2016

I agree with both you and oskalingo.

I have to say that complaining "oh no, look at how much money we're spending" (which is essentially what Luis is doing by mentioning a figure) is not conducive to fundraising through user donations...

April 29, 2016
  • 2182

I think it's a shame that they're going down this route, and I hope it doesn't turn into a slippery slope. I'm rather proud of my streak, but I wouldn't pay to keep it, what's the point?

April 29, 2016

Indeed. I'm less proud of mine today than I was two days ago. :-S

April 29, 2016

Presumably the point is to see what proportion of users would be willing to pay to restore their streaks.

April 29, 2016

Well I told them here$from_email%3Dcomment&comment_id%3D29518116

It boils down to I don*t need no streaks or lingots, it's in german, though.

Look at your lingots to see my willingness to pay for the streak of 521 days and thus the lingots that I lose in future with the lost streak of yesterday night - despite streak freezing was enabled.

First I was really mad, after an hour or two I realized hos stupid that is and now I feel free and happy to have my streak free live again, I will keep it this way, and the lingots go to .... every one of the two thousand two hundred and something.

November 4, 2018

... is this a delayed April Fool's joke? please say yes...

April 29, 2016

I wonder if we can barter our Duo pillows for it?

April 29, 2016

I am willing to pay 5 dollar for Duolingo if they come up with something good (like extra statistics and functions). Keeping the streak is not it. It sounds like cheating in some pay to win microgame.

April 29, 2016

A black day . The money has arived , i guess the 50 million from google wasnt enough

April 29, 2016

They got bigger and better offices to pay for now.

April 29, 2016

And when they are big enough and have all our data one big Player comes and sucks them up while many people here on Duo work for free and spend incredible amounts of internet time in order to help those learning people, who desperately miss features which help and explain with gramma. Without that unpayed help duo would be pretty useless. The same applies to hundreds of people who worked the get the courses up and those who spend lots of time in the Discussion and answer questions, all for free.

Most postings here are 2 years old, the issue is over and over again brandnew.

November 4, 2018

Isn't the money from Google a loan instead of a grant? Maybe this is part of the way to pay back the 50 million from Google...

April 29, 2016

The money from Google Capital, Union Square Ventures, New Enterprise Associates, and Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers is venture capital — not a loan, not a grant, but four rounds (to date) of investments. Time will tell if the pay-to-play-gamification experiment will sufficiently supplement the paid testing to support the gratis educational raison d’être.

April 29, 2016

Hmm, venture capital. That undermines my willingness to donate ( or at least to think of it as a donation) . A charitable foundation is one thing a money making enterprise is another, if profit making is required then the game has changed (pun intended) and we would pe paying for services along the model of pay what you can afford pricing.

Hmm i wonder about the number of investors and levels of input to have a user buyout

April 29, 2016

Duolingo was founded as a for-profit company and has been one since its inception.

April 29, 2016

Duolingo has been founded with "the best education money can buy should be free" as its first principle.
It's still the case for now but for how long, with putting a foot in freemium-world? That's the fear/risk that is raised with this buyable-option arriving inside the Duo teaching apps.

Duolingo was founded as a for-profit company

From the same link, it's not that clear. It sounds more like it has been founded with the idea that it has to be able to "finance itself"/to be "self-sustaining".
But there may be other statements where CEOs said it's meant to be a for-profit company.

April 29, 2016

What do you think it means to be self-financing?

As an organization, it can be either for-profit or a non-profit. A non-profit relies on donations. A for-profit finances itself.

Being a for-profit company is a description of how it gets its income, not how much income it makes or its overall business strategy, or even how much importance it places on increasing profits vs covering costs.

Duolingo has decided that it wants to fund the education aspect of the site by raising money through providing some kind of service that people value enough to pay for (other than the language education itself) rather than through soliciting donations.

That's all being for-profit means.

April 29, 2016

That's generally what for-profit companies do, but the names are legal categories for tax purposes more than they are mission statements for the business.

It's more about what they legally can do as a business than about what they must do or even what they actually are doing.

April 29, 2016

A for-profit finances itself.

Being a for-profit company is a description of how it gets its income, not how much income it makes or its overall business strategy, or even how much important it places on increasing proofs vs covering costs.

Ok, my bad. I didn't know "for-profit" didn't mean in English "to make money (for its owner/ockholder)". It sounded like that to my non-native English speaker ears. ;)

Thx for the precision!

April 29, 2016


That is actually a good question. I even have some direct experience as AI once got money from a class settlement from a class action suit filed against an employer that I suppose didn't properly handle it's unpaid internships.

Volunteers are generally required to be doing work for humanitarian purposes or the public good, which this seems to qualify for, but they also seem specifically something for non-profits to use rather than for-profit businesses, which would seem to be an issue in this case.

As always, I think the Internet allows for situations that are a little bit murky. I did some volunteer moderating of an online community attached to a site that was making money (briefly, I just didn't have the time after a while, but I had friends who did it for years, unpaid). The community itself wasn't making any money, but it supported a money-making enterprise. I've no idea whether that was legal or not in retrospect, of course, and it was a fair bit smaller as an organization than Duolingo.

I don't know fo sure how Duolingo is officially designated, but everything I've ever seen leads me to believe that it's a for-profit, and that may indeed be a problem for them making use of volunteer work unless they've figured out a way to make it work from an organizational perspective.

If the stuff that the volunteers work on directly becomes a source of revenue, I think the options available for threading that particular needle drop precipitously, assuming that there are many options available even under current circumstances.

For example, does a game company that promotes especially good mods of their game on their site, but neither compensates the modern nor charges anyone for the mods, are they using volunteer labor or is it community provided enhancement that others in the community can take advantage of free of charge? Does it matter that this enhances the main product of the company? Is the line blurred when the primary core that is being added to is also free? Does that make it less of an issue or more? And Duolingo certainly exercises more direct control than with a typical game modding community.

And yes, I definitely think that becomes more of a problem if monetary barriers start springing up that get between any consumers and the volunteer created content. I don't think this particular idea does that, but I can see the concern especially if you yourself have put volunteer work into something, and I think this may actually become a concern at some point for Duolingo, now that I've seen the subject brought up.

Edit: Also, no, I don't believe that the US has a "third category." You could potentially spin off the language learning aspect into a non-profit with other associated services attached to the for-profit business, but I don't get the sense that Duolingo has done anything like this.

April 30, 2016

I am not an USA qualified accountant so cannot comment on the for profit/ non profit divide over there. In the UK and europe the distinction is on the legitimate expenditure of income. With for profit aiming to pay out investors ( shareholders and vernture capitalists) monies which exceed their inital investment in perpetunity. while a not for profit , still is able to raise money and be self-financing through commerical activity as well as accepting donnations, but the income can only be used for the specific charitable purposes it is set up for. We also have social enterprises which are a kind of halfway house, and much like one would expect duo to be. There may be terminological differences. The tax treatments of each of these varies.

April 29, 2016


"For profit" in the US does mean "makes profit, gives that profit to shareholders and other parties."

It seems Duolingo is a for-profit:

But that doesn't mean Duolingo has to make a compromise on free education.

Ultimately, to make money, Duolingo needs to provide a valuable service that people want. They need to find ways that don't interrupt the learning process when not paid, but are still desirable that someone will shell out hard earned money for it.

And really -- streaks seem like a good start. They, themselves, have nothing to do with your capability or incapability to learn. Hell, if you feel they are a motivator, you can put a pebble on your windowsill for every day you keep a streak, yourself.

April 30, 2016


You seem well aware of the legal things: would you know if the statement "unpaid volunteers in for-profit businesses are generally not [OK]" made here is true or wrong?

Also, re-reading Luis statement and specifically:

But we're not a non-profit

I wonder why not saying "But we're a for-profit".
Could it be that there is a third way between "for-profit" and "non-profit"? I don't think so but prefer to check since I don't know the US system.

And, again, all this "status" of Duolingo is another point.
The all point here is the risk of the freemium aspect to be one day extended to more than non-teaching features.

April 30, 2016

@ionasky: That was the dichotomy I had in mind too (when answering). ;)

April 29, 2016

@Bducdt: Thx for the answer and for this link!

And it clearly states the idea is "making Duolingo self-sustainable", it doesn't state more than that, not (at least not mentioned) to make profit that would go to shareholders and other parties.
What we call such company that just earn enough money only to pay the bills and invest self-improvement doesn't really matter. But that's the model that is told to be Duolingo's one and this model is one of the reason why many volunteers do volunteer. ;)

But that doesn't mean Duolingo has to make a compromise on free education

It depends what part fall under the "buyable" part of the freemium. That's all the point (cf. my other comments) and all the reason why many of us aren't confortable with Duo starting to be freemium: where will it stop?

And really -- streaks seem like a good start.

I think we all (well, 99%+ at least) agree that makin it on streak isn't an issue per se.
Cf. my other comments too. ;)

April 30, 2016


He says specifically they're not non-profit. Non-profit could be "self-sustainable." The difference between a non-profit and non-non-profit (for-profits) is that for-profits distribute what they make among the shareholders. Non-profits are legally obligated to reinvest.

Ultimately, Duolingo said, "hopefully, someone's going to be getting rich off this company."

And there's nothing wrong with that. The shareholders and leaders of Duolingo said their profit's going to come from making a world a better place with free language education. Who can argue with that? Great people getting rewarded for doing great things.

The people behind Duolingo deserve to get rich be enabling this platform.

And yeah, they're going to make money off of volunteer's free work. But the volunteers shouldn't see it as them getting exploited -- instead they're enabling. Without their effort duolingo wouldn't be possible and that the free language education Duolingo provides wouldn't be around.

Maybe someday Duolingo can pay its contributors, but as it stands, Duolingo's losing money every day (if I'm not mistaken), and that's not a possibility until they can prove free language education can be profitable.

April 30, 2016

The first thing I thought when I read this was, "FOUR NINETY-NINE?!?"

April 29, 2016

That's what I said when I saw the Rosetta Stone ad. jk :P

April 29, 2016

I bet Cal Ripkin Jr. or Lou Gehrig would have loved to have this option for their streaks.

April 29, 2016

I would much rather spend 100 lingots to repair a streak than pay actual money to do the same.

May 1, 2016

I agree, paying real money is like bribing the teacher (in this case the computer) to give you a pass for inconsistent work.

May 2, 2016

I think it is a good idea, it will help Duolingo and people like me, who love our streak.

April 29, 2016

I also think it's an idea, good or not. I think it could be set up as an option, of course. There could be not only a limit on how many times you could save but at what number a save might be initiated. Streaks of more than, say 100 or 200 days might cost more to save. The more I think on it the more complicated it could become. Is it worth it.?? Saving a 1 day, maybe, but not more, IMHO.

April 29, 2016

I know the system, as it is, is great, but they have to make money somehow. I am not sure if this type of fees is the best way. I am more willing to pay for a more advance German course, because I have to pay anyway, after A2 there is nothing really good online, only paid tutors.

April 29, 2016

Though I think $4.99 is a bit high, I know some people are suddenly discouraged if they ever lose their streak. I'm not going to discourage them from doing that, but even as I try to legitimately keep my streak, in the end it's just a number and in no way reflects the dedication that I have.

Personally, I'd love for some great premium features being the incentive to put money into Duolingo. I'd find that much more worthwhile than a high number on my streak. It doesn't really have to be much. A low one-time payment to unlock bonus stats, maybe? I'd even be willing to pay for some bonus skills!

April 29, 2016

Bonus stats would be fab! I love how Lingvist tracks how much time you spend learning a language, it's quite addictive. I would pay for that.

April 29, 2016

Good gravy are they trying to make the streaks more worthless? How truly obscene, You failed the test, pay $4.99 for a C instead of a D? Way to cheapen the streaks of everyone that actually put the effort in every day because you (The user in this scenario) have more money than common sense. I mean, there are better ways they can earn cash. I see people on this forum talk about bonus skills for money or things of that nature all the time. Personal tutors for money for the more popular languages. People have even requested a donation button for cryin' out loud. C'mon Luis.

April 29, 2016

This seems perfectly acceptable to me. Its $4.99. completely impractical for buying a streak saver every single day. No one who was not really devoted to their streak would waste money on it. Meanwhile a person with a streak of 800 who worked really hard for it, and accidentally lost it to aomething out of their control? Would gladly pay the 4.99. Because they are devoted enough they might even think of it as a donation. After getting that much time out of Duolingo. I think this is a wonderful feature

April 29, 2016

"No one who was not really devoted to their streak would waste money on it."

Do you mean like the individual in the thread that paid for it but has a 32 day streak?

Edit: Upon reading her comments it may have even appeared to this user that she needed to pay to continue on which is even worse in my opinion. With younger users using the app on their phones.

April 29, 2016

It doesn't say that this individual paid for it, it just says that a certain notification popped up. It doesn't specify whether or not the $4.99 was paid.

April 6, 2017

My guess is they chose to do an A/B test on this because of the amount of people constantly whining about how they deserve to have their streaks restored.

They really have been changing the app to suit the cries of the people interested in games and not languages for a while now. Unfortunately, this particular choice will affect the site as well.

April 29, 2016

That's something that I'm a little afraid of. I'd rather it not be more gamified.

Some people are worthy of admiration due to their dedication and humility, however now you really can't tell. Between streak freezes and streak repairs a dude with a 500 day streak can have like 30 streak freeze days and a couple of repairs, and for what? This is like hitting the lowest common denominator, just personally not what I would've gone for my first foray into charging people on this particular website and in this particular fashion.

Edit, further thought: Especially with how receptive people are to donations and one on one time, which honestly I'd be willing to donate as well. Just not like this.

April 29, 2016

I don't the gamification direction at all. Just looking at all the threads about how to make it easier and easier is nauseating. Who knows how many people on here have kept their streaks by doing 1XP a day.

But then if it becomes a choice between charging the gamer kids who "have more money than common sense" or charging those of us who are here to learn, then let them pay for it :)

April 29, 2016

This is true as well, and as much as I don't like it it is an intelligent business decision like putting a pawn shop in the ghetto. I guess I just get a little frustrated that there wasn't a classier decision put forth first and this one tried when others had perhaps failed. You know what I mean?

April 29, 2016

They have to make money somehow, or they will simply die, probably while sinking the whole 'free as in beer' language ship with them as every competitor smugly says "There, see, it obviously doesn't work". $40,000 a day is totally bonkers! So that makes pretty much any cash experiment fair game as far as I am concerned.

I think it's perfectly fair the way this one is done anyway - if you really care about your streak, you aren't going to miss a single day knowing that it will cost you five bucks to get it back, and if you don't care about your streak, then you aren't being forced to give them anything. You just can if you feel like it. It's soft power, it's only going after people who can afford to spend cash on frivolous things . Meanwhile, everyone who put a massive effort into a streak only to lose it to uncontrolled circumstances has a last resort option. I would have loved to have had that a couple of times, as I worked like a dog till the early hours of the morning.

If anyone really is dumb enough to pay 5 bucks every day just to have a hi score, let them have their fun, personally I'd be satisfied knowing that someone in their office gets a free coffee out of it :P

My prediction for what is coming next: Custom Duo outfits for 2.50 a go. I'd buy a stupid hat for Duo just to send a few bucks their way. What's the problem?

April 30, 2016

Yep. I don't know why they didn't improve the classroom format, require teachers certification to set up a classroom and then made a deal with schools.

I also feel a little peeved that they decided to move into bigger offices and then look for the money to cover it.

April 29, 2016

For the sake of comparison, Rosetta Stone turned over $218 million last year, $179 million of which was gross profit. And they've been on the down for the past few years. Their daily costs were around $120,000 but they still managed to make an obscene profit.

I assume Duolingo will earn its money mostly from small recurring payments rather than the large one-off chunks that RS relies on. I don't know if Duolingo actually has more active users than RS has all-time users. But I assume the number of active users on Duolingo is a measly fraction of the giant numbers of users they often quote. Even with all this going against it, looking at the massive profits Rosetta Stone is still making even after a slight downturn in sales, Duolingo should surely be able to come up with something to make them at least break even.

May 3, 2016

$14.6 million/year isn't so much in business terms, it just seems shockingly high when you see it in terms of per day and compare it to something like your own individual salary.

May 3, 2016

@WildSage, do you really think people care that much about a streak that they would come to this site daily to earn 1 XP (I mean daily just for 1 XP) just to keep a streak going? I have had days where I have earned less than 10 XP, but those are the exception for me. I cannot imagine anyone living that way.

April 29, 2016

Oh, Jolynne, I have just done it. (Not one XP, but ten XP). I had cataract surgery, and my eyesight is too fuzzy to spend a long time reading for a while.). But I am too proud of my streak to want to toss it. We all have different motivators. The streak happens to be one for me.

April 29, 2016

I already find it slightly pathetic that I go to a particular website (this one) every day of the year, but I've made my peace with it... X-)

April 29, 2016

people do all kinds of crazy things o keep their preciousssssssss little sssssstreak. I remember someone with 1000 streak admitting they finished only one tree (that's 1 tree in three years, right, so count the intensity of studies yourself). Also recently someone posted that they paid neighbour kid to log in daily for them to keep the streak while they were away for a week in a place with no coverage. Not to mention all those whiney "lost my streak" posts that appear daily. And not all of these posts are about 300+ streaks, some are about 20 or 50 days.

April 29, 2016

@amaratea, think about this: Someone learns one foreign language for three years, someone else starts 10 different trees within 6 months. Who do you think will actually be able to use a foreign language?

And there is not just the tree, there are the forums, flashcards (and immersion). Nothing wrong with staying with one language for a long time.

June 25, 2016

Is this your first time on the forums? Pay attention for a while you will see people post that they do and post as a tip for others.

April 29, 2016

@WildSage Do they come just to earn 1 XP? If they're on the forums that seems unlikely.

April 29, 2016

@YellowPlatypus there are people who learn languages and there are people who chase streaks/followers/owls/other non-learning stuff. There is indeed nothing wrong with taking it long, but the results will be essentially different in Group 1 and Group 2, e.g. the chances of seeing a post like "I have been studying Spanish on Duo for three years and I was not able to order a food in the restaurant in Spanish, Duo sucks!111 " from someone who is actually studying is significantly lower. Such people also tend to have high Immersion tiers, level 20+ in the tree, some comment history - in general, there is a picture. So yes, if someone is actually studying, then they can take as long as they want, but if someone does it only for the streak, no need to blame Duo for that (that "I remember someone..." part was an actual reference to a post that was hanging in popular for a while around the time this discussion was posted).

June 25, 2016

As many others have already said, donations are an option. I'm just a student, so I'm not going to comment too much about that. My gripe with these solutions is that it goes against their policy. Their app store app's description is, "Learn XXX, and English. Totally Fun. Totally Free." Keyword here being totally. I was personally shocked when I first saw this. One suggestion, they could let the entire thing be free as it is, but add an option to pay a small amount for more advanced (but not necessarily necessary) features to enhance the learning experience. So, yes, it is one step in neither the wrong, nor the right direction. I agree, they definitely do have better ways to make money.

May 2, 2016

Streaks are not a necessary feature.

Donations probably don't generate enough revenue.

May 2, 2016

Streaks, ultimately, are just numbers to indicate how many days in a row you have practiced on Duolingo, it does not really say anything about one's competence in the language. People should not be discouraged by losing their streaks, thus making the new offer pointless. To solve this problem, I suggest having the option to turn streaks on or off, with off set as the default, or removing it entirely.

Donations are purely optional, and while they might not generate enough revenue, it's better than the current nothing. As Duolingo ages, people will also be able to see its results (I have, in the 1.5 years I've been here) and appreciate it. Alas, Duolingo cannot totally rely on one way to make money.

May 2, 2016

The fact that losing a streak has little to do with competence, and losing a streak is no good reason to get discouraged, is exactly why streaks are a great place to tack on a fee -- they are purely a part of the gamification of learning a language. If you want to pay because that number means something to you, great -- more power to you. If you don't think that number's very important and don't wanna pay, then no problem -- it doesn't really matter.

May 2, 2016

I am not sure that streak-saving option will be generating any significant amount of money at all. While donations, given the amount of people using duo, can cover these 40k a day.

May 2, 2016

Duolingo has ~15 million users per month. at 40k / day, that comes out to over 1 million dollars per month.

That means more than 1/15 users will have to donate $1 every month.

I'm somehow doubting that.

May 2, 2016

I doubt too that one source (among "donation" and "pay for non content option") alone will cover it.

But what I'm curious about is the source/reference for "~15 million [active] users per month" number.
Is it your estimation or a number that Duo shared (or an extrapolation from a previous number Duo shared in the past)?

May 2, 2016

@ amaratea, Bducdt.

I think it's hard to know which one is more realistic without knowing the number of "(almost) daily users". Daily users being those taking a lesson every day.

Indeed, if on one hand for donation it's not irrealistic to imagine that monthly users (=take at least one lesson each rolling month) could want to contribute(*), on the other hand the ones likely to pay for streak are "almost" dailyusers--- if you already don't come every day, why pay for your streak? ;) --- so a smaller group of users than the 15M monthly users.

And to make a rough approx. of what could bring the "pay for streak" at max (=if everyone in situation to pay for it would do it) it'd need:

  • an approx. of "almost" daily users
  • an approx. of the "rate" at which daily users miss a day (without having a streak freeze for this day) in average.

One thing is sure: none of both "solutions" is likely to cover the 40k$/day.

(*) even if I'd say it's more likely to be mainly users in the subgroup of weekly users that would contribute on a regular basis.

May 2, 2016

I googled "duolingo active users" and multiple articles quoted 15 million in late 2015.

This is one.

May 2, 2016


but it all happens only if two requirements are met: 1)they lose their streaks and 2)they are willing to pay. Even if we assume that everyone is willing to pay, there is still a question of how often it happens? I'm on Duo for 8 months and within this period I have never been in a situation that wouldn't be solved by a simple streak freeze (this includes intercontinental travels and working 18 hours a day). I would have to imitate streak loss to contribute.

And then, not everyone will be willing to pay - someone gets disappointed in Duo, someone just doesn't care, someone cannot afford this. So 1/75 every month seems unrealisting to me.

The only requirement for donations, however, is good will. I would be happy to set a monthly payment, and many other people would do the same. All it takes just one button on the website. So while it may indeed not cover 1.2 million/month, it seems more realistic to me.

May 2, 2016

It still looks more realistic than gaining this amount from streak save, even if it gets expanded to all apps.

May 2, 2016


At $5, only 1/75 users per month have to find it worth it. Seems possible they'll break even, or maybe close (even 1/150 users buying it will halve their rate of losing money).

May 2, 2016

That's what Martin Luther didn't like with the catholic church, in Germany it was called Ablass. Sinner could pay god out by paying money to the church to get Ablasszettel, a sort of certificate that you are a decent guy again and god forgave you.

That was 400 years ago.

November 4, 2018

I did my study. This was an internet fail! It isn't cheating and for those that do want to cheat - they are only cheating themselves!

June 20, 2016

What the heck is this? Who in world would pay five bucks for that? Really Duo?

May 6, 2016

This is one of those cases where A/B testing is dangerous because while some people may say that Duolingo is free and they've never paid for anything (and be saying the truth). Others may dispute it and claim that it has hidden fees (and also be stating the truth) or that it is a scam. A few minutes ago on the Duolingo wiki someone claimed that Duolingo now also charges people asking for answers / summary in their "Quick tests", after they complete it. Although this was made in the section about the progress test, it is entirely possible that it applies to both.

It also puts into question the incubator, and the risk that volunteers' work will also be monetized in a similar manner. Interestingly enough, the wiki I've contributed to also monetizes those contributions. But the greatest difference is that this is known upfront, and there is a way to export all contributions, and store it for personal use.

April 29, 2016

claimed that Duolingo now also charges people asking for answers / summary in their "Quick tests"

Is there any screenshot of that?

April 29, 2016

Like I said, once these things start happening people can make all sorts of claims because few A/B tests are publicly announced, so it is entirely possible it did happen. Anyway, I was referring to this comment:

Whether it is true or not, only Duolingo staff would know. A screenshot would not prove anything either, fake images can be easily created with something like photoshop.

April 29, 2016

only Duolingo staff would know

(I found the link and) I asked them . let see if they answer. ;)

April 29, 2016

Thanks for the question, we should clarify. The progress quiz on Duolingo is different from the test options offered via the Duolingo Test Center, which is a standalone certification platform.

The survey was sent to some Test Center practice test takers. (The team decided not to develop the review mistakes feature there for now.)

All learning content on the Duolingo app and website remains free :)

April 29, 2016

Thx for the clarification!

April 29, 2016

I have very mixed feelings. Although I understand that Duo needs to get money somehow, I still think this is a...sad start. First of all, donations, of course. I myself was searching desperately for this button on my second or third day here, and was really surprised not to find one. There can be other options too, for example: vanity item shop (online and irl - get your golden owl shipped to you!), voice platforms, service for finding language tutors, hosting official language events, etc etc etc.

Things that I find confusing:

1) setting a fee for something like a streak devaluates it even more.

2)it creates a precedent for other unexpected hidden charges and this saddens me. It doesn't look good either. The thing I loved in Duo from the start is that it's transparent and uncompromisingly free, you can spend here years without having even the slightest need to pay the smallest fee for anything. Now it feels like many other services (not only language learning) that claim to be "free" but if you start looking deeper, you find loads of small fees and charges.

3)it may effect Duo negatively as well, because, as mentioned above, the moment you pay real money you become an entitled customer. This means Duo will be no longer free in their decisions, and any changes they make or glitches that happen will no longer pass with "take it or leave it" and "whoops soz" respectively.

Duo, honestly. You really can do better than this.

April 29, 2016

I think you said my argument far better than I did, thank you.

April 29, 2016

Perhaps this should be restricted to those that had a minimum of 100 days worth of streaks prior to loss of the streak, and a maximum of 10 or 20 purchased days in any one year - I say that because sometimes there are internet access difficulties (physical access), or, as happened to me recently, I flew from the UK to South Africa which is basically 24 hours door to door (Manchester to Port Elizabeth) and getting internet access to ensure that I did not lose my streak, despite the 1 streak freeze we have at any one time, was a challenge. I would hate to lose my streak, as small as it is, as it is reflective of exactly how many days since I started my Spanish learning journey. Just my thoughts on the matter :)

April 29, 2016

I enjoy duo but would rather just make a donation, as I do from time to time to other sites which I find useful, such as Wiki and GEDmatch.

May 26, 2016

Can you just offer a voluntary subscriber fee for those who can pay? Or ask if people wish to invest in the development of a certain language (like Arabic, hint hint).

January 6, 2017

I think that if Duolingo is going to provide a mechanism for restoring that costs real money, they should also provide, as an alternative especially for those user who are of limited means and/or live in poor countries, to use lingots as payment to restore their streak.

There is one such proposal eloquently stated here:

If the real-money mechanism goes live, then so should the lingot mechanism.

Frankly, I would prefer to see only lingots being used to restore a streak. Otherwise the streak becomes more of a reflection of who has the ability to spend money, not speak a language. But if you must have real money, you should allow lingots to do the same.

February 4, 2017

The streak is nothing more than a childishly fun exercise for adults, and part of the element that makes learning language more of a game. Streak repair is a way of raising money for duolingo. Big deal if people with money have an edge. They should pay more for duolingo. People without money can still learn a language, which is the whole point of the thing. Even when I break my streak, and don't pay to repair it, I'm still learning French.

February 4, 2017

"Big deal if people with money have an edge." Actually, it is a big deal.

"The streak is nothing more than a childishly fun exercise" -- It is supposed to be a motivational tool to get you to come to the site and practice every day, even if it's only for five minutes. The point is daily study, daily repetition. That is the key to learning a new language successfully.

So frankly, letting people buy their streak defeats the whole purpose.

February 4, 2017

Learning French involves loads of childlike fun, on duolingo, for me. That's what makes it such a great learning tool, it appeals to a childish sensibility but teaches a very important skill. But educate me: what's so important about the whole streak thing? I don't get it.

February 4, 2017

How many days will this keep being advertised to me? I've seen the ad (complete with crying Duo the owl, which I find kind of offensive) about 5 times now - every time I open the app. Please change this so it's just offered once!!!! I'm not that invested in my streak but I find it emotionally manipulative to be reminded over and over again by a crying owl that I lost my streak!

Thank you!

October 23, 2017

I will be going on vacation soon where net access will be limited and I may not be able to continue my daily streak, despite having one streak freeze. Isn't there a way to be able to use lingots earned for more than one streak freeze at a time? Or a vacation / holiday setting to preserve a streak when internet access isn't available?

June 27, 2016

Isn't there a way to be able to use lingots earned for more than one streak freeze at a time? Or a vacation / holiday setting to preserve a streak when internet access isn't available?


Make queries like
vacation && "streak freeze" or (vacation holiday) && "streak freeze"
in forum search-engine to find many answers about that in past discussions asking it.

June 27, 2016

I'd definitely be happy to pay a small amount for this. I recently travelled across several time zones and lost a 320+ day French streak even though I practised every "day". Given that DuoLingo is essentially free, I see no problem at all with a little bit of revenue earned this way.

October 30, 2016

I'll go buy some repairs in itunes. I'm happy to contribute. The prompt freaked me out because I thought it was phishing.

January 6, 2017

This link has the problem you just discussed about: Plz look into the matter. Thx!

January 7, 2017

I like this idea. HOWEVER, I just paid to get my streak back because, through no fault of my own, Duolingo thought I was in a different timezone. This seems very scam to me. I'm all for being able to get my streak back but I'm not happy that I lost my streak when I should not have.

January 14, 2017

Duolingo sets your account to the timezone it detects when you first signup.

January 14, 2017

I'm aware of this. I travelled to a different time zone for 3 weeks, came back, was working fine, then today it decided to roll over 2 hours early. Dumb.

January 14, 2017

I didn't get the notification. However, I am on a computer. I had 105 day streak and then I lost it. I am really bummed and i think I will delete my account now.

January 15, 2017

If I say no thanks, then why does the offer pop up every time I open the app? I don't care about the streak. I am willing to donate, but this isn't free as there is an advertisement after every question set.

February 24, 2017

I understand why they're doing it, I just hope this doesn't turn into a "pay to win" kind of thing

March 20, 2017

I think this is a Great way to raise money! I have recently lost my 174 day streak and was devastated, but as I do not have a card that I can link to iOS account I am unable to pay to repair my streak! :( Very sad that there is not another way to donate to maintain a streak!

June 25, 2017

This is the text from my posting / comment (can not directly link the comment id) from this thread:

In the Android app V3.50.2 (last store update from 06/15/2017) the price to buy the streak repair is 10.99€.

Not 10.99$ (~9,65€), not 4$, not 4,99$ and also not 4/4,99 euros!!
The 10.99€ (~12,5$) price is the same on Android like the newer Pro monthly subscription.

Still I think the price is quite costly, as the offer does NOT include either ad-free or Pro subscription for one month :( .
The price of 4,99 (either dollar or euro) sounds IMHO a little bit more fair to me for a (simple) streak repair?!?

PS: They seem to be missing a popup vote feedback button or formular, to tell them, once you buy the repair, if you think as a recent buyer if the price is fair or not or give any other more detail feedback in a text field.

The general Android app feedback option from the top right corner menu is buggy in V3.50.2 on Bluestacks. It actually shows NO feedback formular, but only a deep black screen.

Wasn't there an announcement of the team to trying to find out the "best price" options by A/B test groups across multiple users and platforms???

Please note:
There was no popup streak lost - repair? message when I started the Android app, like it was mentioned by othes for the IOS app several times!!! So BIG difference here!

The username data was stored from before, so the app did an auto login for me.
It directly routed me - like normal - to the tree; also e.g in my profile page no popup message appeared.

Instead of, I had to go the shop icon on the right in the Android app, and there was shown a special repair streak sale button, which I could select manually just like a "streak freeze".
However, I have to say that I am glad that the DuoLingo developer team even brought this option from IOS to Android.
Without that, I would not have been able to recover my streak lately.

At least there is Android emulator software like Bluestacks available, which you can install on Windows on a PC!!
For the IOS app plattform there is AFAIK no emulator available for PC?!?

Or does anyone of you know one emulator, where you can install the IOS app on a Windows computer too?

June 29, 2017

I have no IOS so, what can I do to restore my streak then? It was +350 :'(

December 11, 2017

Nothing, AFAIK.

Well except of course managing to "have" iOS by installing an iOS emulator on your computer and using from there the iOS version.
But it's not a very user-friendly solution and not sure you'll be offered to buy your streak as you may have lost it more than one day ago.

December 11, 2017

The pop-up did not appear on both of my iOS and Android device. I lost my streak last night (I was so stupid), and I've tried login and log out, but nothing. I wish I could pay to get it back but Duo doesn't even offer me the option.

Sep. 2018

September 30, 2018

Haha, there are also many who pay the mafia to not get their existence destroyed. And here is stupid little me, who feels like a cheater when I have one rough day every couple of weeks or month and pay 10 lingots to secure my streak for those rough days.

The fact that he doesn't seem to bother to give that as a public excuse is quite shocking to me.

November 4, 2018

Why don't I just buy it using the lingots?

March 15, 2019

I am going on holiday for a week and will not have access to the internet. How can I maintain my streak? can I pay in advance and at what rate?

June 12, 2019

Hmmm..."This helps you keep your education free" Um, no $4.99 is cheap for an education but it is not free.

Their wording is terrible.

April 29, 2016

The education is still free. The streak repair isn't, but that's not really education.

In other words, if you voluntarily pay for part of the gamification aspect of the site, it helps them keep the education part of the site free for everyone.

April 29, 2016

Exactly, it is still free. The Test Center didn't stop it from being free. Neither did them selling merchandise. This doesn't either.

April 29, 2016

But it's the first freemium thing inside Duolingo teaching app( \& apps, when and are "independent" (in the sense they're out of the teaching part).
That's the only inconfortable thing with all that: the teaching app/website starting to be freemium (but maybe it'll stay only on things like streak, outfits for the owl, etc. in which case, no pb).

April 29, 2016

Yeah, as long as you can complete the learning part without paying - that is the important thing.

It does seem a bit intrusive though. Hopefully there will be a way to turn it off (especially for classrooms) so that anyone not maintaining a streak is not bothered by this.

April 29, 2016

Explain "freemium"?

February 4, 2017

By the way, they don't make any profit from the merchandise they sell. Which has always baffled me.

April 29, 2016

Interesting - must only be for publicity then? OK, that was a bad example.

April 29, 2016

Why no profit on the merchandise sold? Is it priced too low?

February 4, 2017

They've said (somewhere) that they didn't want to turn into a t-shirt vendor, and didn't think they'd be able to sell enough merchandise to really make much of a difference anyway.

February 5, 2017

."This helps you keep others' education free" ? ;)

April 29, 2016

"This helps you keep others' as well as your education free while making you happy to have recovered your streak".

At least, I would assume it would have made the person happy given they choose the option of paying actual money to get it back.

April 29, 2016

Much better.

April 29, 2016

I have always enjoyed the word, "free-mium" like premium, and like free, different from each in important ways.

April 29, 2016

Sure, and there are many useful language learning tools which use this structure and are great: Memrise, Coffee Break,...

But I always used to be able to recommend Duolingo to people and say "it's completely free". And I've recommended it to literally hundreds of people in the years I've been using it. Although this is a small test (iOS app only, and only the people who break their streaks) for one particular, nonessential charge, I don't feel I can say that any more.

April 29, 2016

Did you have a similar response to the Test Center?

Neither that nor this prevent you from using the educational part for free.

April 29, 2016

The Test Center is (as far as I know, I've never used it) a separate app, created for a wholly different purpose, and has had its own clear pricing from the start.

Its idea (again, as far as I understand) is to be a cheaper and more convenient alternative to existing testing possibilities. I don't know if any volunteers have been involved in creating or developing that app.

If someone asked me for an affordable way of getting a certificate of their English skills (a very theoretical situation), I would probably mention that the Duolingo Test Center seems like an inexpensive tool for this, but that I have absolutely no experience of using it and therefore cannot really neither recommend it nor warn against it.

So, no, I don't care that another product built by the same company has been clearly labeled as payable ever since its conception.

April 29, 2016

Actually this new "feature" makes me more suspicious of the test center. If Duo values some garbage like a "streak freeze restoration" at $4.99 then I'm not sure that I believe they understand the value of anything.

Who knows how accurate their test center is. Certainly their fluency scores don't suggest they are good at measuring language acquisition.

April 29, 2016

That is my understanding of the Test Center also.

I think if they made the streak functionality opt out, especially for schools, then this would be OK. You can use the site without streaks if you want and not be bothered by this. The current implementation does seem intrusive.

However, I prefer this to introducing sponsorship in lessons (think Starbucks) which is another idea they floated a few months ago. That seems even more intrusive.

April 29, 2016

Agreed. The wording is terrible.

February 4, 2017

This seems like a good idea, but I'm afraid that Duolingo will start charging us for other things, too. I'd be fine paying this fee once, but I wouldn't want to pay more than that. Maybe Duolingo should just charge a small fee, like $1-3, when someone signs up. It's not an issue for many people, and it would keep Duo going.

April 29, 2016

It's not an issue for many people, but it's an issue for some people, which puts a barrier between them and the knowledge, the opposite of what Duolingo's mission statement is.

A one-time payment of a couple of dollars is also not much of an on-going revenue source. Leaving aside paying back the money that has already been sunk into Duolingo, if they have daily operating costs of $40,000, then you'd need tens of thousands of people signing up every single day for the rest of Duolingo's existence just to cover current expenses.

April 29, 2016

Really funny it will get if/when they start to "lose" progress, the numbers on the level buttons in the forums and such. Bad enough how the handled the set back of the progress when the updated the site.

Many people would pay lots of money in order to get back the progress and the decor, it's kind of a soft hostage situation. That's why I am going to make sure, that I wont ever build up a streak of more than a week and why I give up all the lingots, I realized with shock, what grip they got on me.

It seems to me that the display of streaks can be disabled, many don't show the streak icon, I tried that but couldnt figure where and how, some info would be appreciated.

And yes, it's also an issue for people who never ever make online payments because the don't like credit cards and and paypal, no matter if for political reasons or because they don't trust it to be secure.

November 4, 2018

That would deter 99% new potential users, if not more.

April 29, 2016

I'd be happy to pay my $3 this month for me and then $3 next month and the next 10 for access for someone from a different country where such amounts are meaningful or likely to br too prohibitive to allow access..

May 1, 2016

Is there another way to repair a streak? I have plenty of lingots for it, but don't know how to make it happen. Cashed one in for it once, did not work. I was on day #99 and lost it due to forgetting. On this same day yesterday, recommended it to 3 more people. I rave about this app! But disheartening to lose my streak for this reason!

April 29, 2016

Cashed one in for it once, did not work. I was on day #99 and lost it due to forgetting.

Did you try to purchase the streak freeze after losing the streak? It needs to be bought before you miss a day as insurance. Then, it will automatically be used in the future when you miss a day.

April 29, 2016

That's what I thought, till last night.

November 4, 2018

I was thinking, maybe they could send a one day reminder note, but then, they don't seem to be able to fix this "Discussion" scan, so it doesn't keep going back to the begining, when you stop to read something.

April 29, 2016

$4.99 for a 52 day streak?

REALLY LUIS!??!?!?!!??! REALLY?!?!??!?!

I'm gonna do something about this! snorts angrily

May 11, 2016
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