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Duolingo isn't completely free anymore! - Check this out...

After seeing three discussions on this topic in the past few weeks, each with its own bit of info on the topic, I've made a collected repost with all the info in one paragraph, to give those of you who are unaware of the situation a little sneak peek. For those of you who are following my activity feed and are fans of my posts and guides, I apologize for not posting in awhile, here you go. I hope you enjoy this post, please leave an upvote to show your support and follow my activity feed to receive updates and more content.

I saw two discussions that had collected info, and here is the link to one, the other link has been lost, but I've collected the info here: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/15196374 And here: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/15214047

So Duolingo has released a new A/B test involving paid streak repairs. Here's what I mean: Do you get what I mean now? Duolingo isn't completely free anymore! I get that they are trying to make money to support the website and mobile apps, but come on...

Many people do not agree with this feature. This A/B test has been officially confirmed in Luis's comment here: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/15196374

A quote from Luis, Duolingo CEO...

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.

Quote from the Duolingo home page:

Learn a language for free, forever.

Free? Paying $4.00 to repair a worthless streak?

Really Luis?

As I said before, many people do not agree with this decision.

Look at the comments here: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/15196374

Now you understand other people's opinions, what's your opinion? Leave your opinions in the comments below, and until next time...


May 11, 2016



Espero que muchas personas pagan para tener sus rayas reparada. Nos ayudará a mantener a Duo gratis!


shouldn't that be "espero que muchas personas paguen..." if you hope that another person acts, i think the subjunctive is used.


The main problem with this feature is that it was presented poorly. They did not announce it. They gave no info to the anyone including moderators. They worded it poorly so that it caused at least one person to worry that they would be continually charged.

Maybe it's time Duo consider hiring someone with communications skills.


They've always been terrible at communicating about changes, so, you're probably right!


Yes. Totally agree with you.

The Duolingo team has no communications skills, LOL.


Well, to be fair, some people care a LOT about loosing their streaks and want to be able to get it back. Not that I would; I don't care either way personally and the only reason I have the streak I have is because I just get on every day to learn and practice languages. If it benefits Duolingo, I personally have no problem spending some money so I can still have it at my fingertips. But I won't do it regularly. And they aren't forcing you to do it, it's an option so.... it's still free to many.


Well, in my opinion, purchasing something to keep your streak going isn't something you need to do. But, this website needs at least a little bit of income to stay up and running, considering that you don't pay any weekly fees or anything like that to use it.


Yes, weekly fees not being here is pretty nice...


Thank you for posting this, as I hadn't noticed the issue before. As it is a charge for a service that wasn't offered before, and not something that has to do with the learning directly, it doesn't trouble me a lot. I agree, though that as a precedent, it's a bit worrying.

That said, things do cost money, and I believe that this sort of charge doesn't interfere with the actual lessons being free. Fingers crossed that they remain committed to this.


"as I hadn't noticed the issue before"

It's only on the iOS mobile app, and even then it's an A/B test, so not everyone has this option.

"Thank you for posting this"

I pretty much consider it my job to inform the Duolingo community about A/B tests, incubator news, and other info. You'll see what I mean if you look at some of my earlier posts.


It's also available in the recent updates of the Android app (see my comment with the included app version below: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/15479130$comment_id=23296133)

But please don't ask me at what exact app version they introduced the streak repair in the app.
Someone in a thread wrote something about 3.4x.x, as I asked him.
That was a while ago...
But I have no clue how I shall find that thread again ;)


Sounds great; let people pay who wish to do so.


The argument in the main post is very misleading. You can learn a language for free regardless of the proposed additions.

It might also be a good time to learn that nothing is free. Someone, somewhere has to pay for it.

As long as Duolingo does not charge for the actually learning, they will remain consistent with their initial promise.


I don't really understand what's wrong with it. It's still totally free to use, you can avoid losing your streak (which, by the way, might not be important for everyone but for people that struggle with remain motivate can be a huge difference) and it's a really small way to support something useful as Duolingo. Maybe even help improving it.

It's totally optional, nobody is forcing you to pay.


It is it optional, unless I pay I cannot continue my streak, I will prefer if you could make donation without shutting you unless you paid


You're not paying to continue your streak, you're paying to repair a streak that has already been broken.


People with disposable income can use this as a donate button :p


Good idea When next I loose my streak I just may do that. I find that DuoLingo is presenting French in a way that is helping my studies immensely and I would hate to loose it. I hope they get a donate button. JH




But I do not quite understand

free still for learning

payment for additions

is this the story?



"Free, forever" costs money. Some free schools have struggled with providing free education. Free public education some times costs parents and/or teachers money when there are very little resources available from a struggling state budget in the United States.

Uhmmm honestly this issue sounds like first-world problems, like a person that owns 2-3 homes complaining an increase in property taxes to a friend that rents an apartment in a sketchy neighborhood. Or the person complaining about tap water and the availability of bottled water to a friend whom came from a country that required a mile walk to get clean water.


You have the choice to pay or not, but anyways the app is free. I can't understand why so much people are complaining. Only the ones who can afford or want to help Duo will pay, and they will get back the strike which is very symbolical. :D

Best regards!


I hope more explanation will be added, for the sake of newbies who don't fully understand the streak yet. They need to know that clicking "No Thanks" won't erase what they've achieved in their tree or the xp level they're reached.


It's still 100% free if you don't buy that little number in the corner. Charging for the streak fix doesn't make it any less free than charging for the t-shirts or the certification test.


Many people do not agree with this feature.

No one has to use this feature.


I also agree this is much better than advertisements on the app or website.

Furthermore, it costs Duo time to answer all those pesky emails from people who want their streaks fixed; by implementing this feature, it automates the process and frees up more of Duo's time and money for more important projects. If it both decreases overhead for Duo and allows a small percentage of users to pay for a symbolic perk, it sounds great.

I would also like to vote for more symbolic in-app purchases, like a suit for Duo for the summer Olympics, custom avatars, badges for user profile pages.

Thanks for all the fun, Duo developers!


It is still free. This is an extra service and I have no problem for them charging for this "customer service" extra. That said, I think a menu option for a "PayPal" type donation might garner them some "free" money. There are some people that are in the position to donate and may do so given the ease of a link.


I'll second that.

I hope Apple aren't taking a cut from this $5 "in-app purchase"!!!!!


A lot of people are willing to donate, actually.


The idea that you suddenly have to pay for Duolingo is hyperbole. Nobody will have to pay.

However I still think this is a terrible idea. I won't pay for this because I realise that the streak is largely meaningless. It is a useful motivator but only because it is a record of your commitment to doing your lessons every day. If you are buying it then I'm not sure how motivating it is.

The problem is that I suspect it will be younger students who can least afford this charge to be the ones who are most likely to be overly attached to their streak. I could afford this easily, but I'm very unlikely to ever pay it because firstly I am largely in control of my own life and can almost guarantee I will be able to do my lessons every day and secondly because I feel that a streak which has been 'repaired' is not really worth anything. A teenager who is very proud of their 200 day streak is more likely to stump up the $5 when they lose it due to circumstances beyond their control.

I guarantee I would pay more money as a voluntary donation than I would through this system. I don't think this is designed to make money though. I think this is designed to reduce the workload on admins who have to deal with people complaining about losing their streak, whether this is due to a genuine bug or carelessness. I'm sure addressing these issues take some time away from their primary purpose and this charge will allow them to almost completely ignore it.


Honestly, I don't see any problem here. It's not that they are trying to "hide" some part of learning resources behind a paywall, so I'm OK with that.


I'm OK with this as well, but jeez, aren't the streaks already worthless enough?


Yes, I'm OK with this as well, but imma investigate some more...


Personally, I find it difficult to take issue with such a charge. You find so many apps in free and pay for versions. The streak is a "nice to have" feature and part of the motivational strategy of DL, but in some ways it is a bit of a vanity and if one happens to miss learning for an extended period, losing your streak is hardly the end of the world and should not effect overall learning. There is no suggestion at this stage that the core programme will become subject to change. DL is a remarkable, wonderous learning tool. I have struggled for....DECADES... to achieve in language learning. Since I committed to DL I am not just learning one language successfully, but three.


I find it ridiculous people being offended by this feature. If it's useless to you - don't buy it. I wouldn't buy such product 'cos I want my streak to be real, but I would love to contribute just because I'm grateful for this amazing product (the best of all language apps I've personally encountered) that is completely free. That's how I found this article actually, I was googling "how to pay for Duolingo". There is this appalling aspect of Internet culture which is due to information oversaturatedness that content providers compete for people's attention and should be grateful for their content being used/read. With Duolingo it's particularly wrong, because only taking and then demanding some more is what being a spoilt brat is.


Streaks mean nothing except for bragging rights. You can still learn and access all of DL without it. The site is still 100% free. You do not HAVE to purchase this service. It's really only of use to people who think their knowledge = their streak, which is slightly ridiculous.

I like my streak, but if I lost it I wouldn't pay to get it back.


Duolingo's initial idea was to be financed via paid translations on Immersion, but that failed more or less. Luis may be a rich guy from selling Recaptcha to Google, but even he can't afford to burn 40k daily. That's more than 14 million dollars per year. It is only fair of him to look for soft ways to find financing. As long as the full content is still available for free, I can't see any problem. The worst thing that could happen is that DL is shut down some day because of financial issues. I'd rather prefer payment for prolonged streaks or even lingots for real money.


Yes, I totally agree with you. I think it's fine to be paying to get your streak back, but I think a donate option should be present as well. Also, this is an A/B test, so not everyone has this option, and also, it's only on the mobile app, and also (so much of that word, "also..."), it's only on the iOS app, not the Android or Samsung one.


True, whoops.. lol


I think they, the DuoLingo team, heared you ;)

...as they are already experimenting with Health/Gems, refill and get more Gems by paying with real money on the IOS app plattform.


Not even bragging rights really. There's no way of telling whether any particular day in someone's streak represents 500+ XP gained from new lessons, or 1XP gained by translating a one-word heading in an immersion document.


Plus whenever someone brags about their streak I immediately think they've probably used a streak freeze which means the number is false.


@Dcarl1: I wouldn't pay to get it back either. I think Duolingo should have a donate button instead. So many people are already willing to donate. Thanks for sharing your opinion, and have a nice day! :D


"It's really only of use to people who think their knowledge = their streak, which is slightly ridiculous."

I disagree. My streak is what motivates me to keep going and, if I lost it through my own error, I would be very upset. That said, my pride would prevent me from buying a streak that had been lost due to my own error. However, if I lost my streak due to something beyond my, or Duo's, control I would gladly pay $4.00 to get it back.


same, even this early on i feel like i would lose all my motivation and will to practice if i lose my streak


This isn't a problem for me because and don't care about my streak and seriously who cares about there streak, isn't it supposed to be just about the learning?


You couldn't do it at all before, so nobody is losing anything.


Exactly, why are people complaining?? How does this affect ANYONE??!?! This more a good thing than a bad thing. Some people care alot about their streak, this helps them out. If they want to pay up then let them. They are not forcing YOU to pay. THE APP IS STILL FREE, GUYS.


When I got started on Duolingo, my "streak" had a great meaning for me, it was such "my precious" to the Gollum, but then I lost 142 days of streaks, to restart two days later...I reached 265 days, then I lost again, and the last time I've lost 65 days.

What I mean is that streak is nice, you realize that you're creating a habit, and conditioning yourself in something good, you can see a real progress..Nevertheless it's not too important to the point I would pay for that...

But I have an idea that would work here and people certainly would like to pay for it.


I too used to really care about the streak. I had a really high one a one point, 700+ days. After I lost it, it was a shame, but ever since then I haven't really cared about the streak anymore. I'm not sure I'll ever have a streak as high as that again, so its something that doesn't interest me as much as it used to anymore.


My precious, what have you done wivvit!!?!?

What has it got in it's pockets's?

Gollum quotes, LOL...


It's certainly better than putting ads..

I think this is totally harmless because streaks don't affect at all the language learning which is the main focus of Duolingo.. and if there are people that care enough to pay, that's fine it's their money but nobody's forcing them to do it


Except ads would probably bring them more money. This isn't likely to cover the $44K a day they claim they need.


While I do agree that you shouldn't have to pay, streaks really don't mean anything. I mean, yeah, you can brag about your streak but it really doesn't inhibit your learning.

[deactivated user]

    How many people brag about their streak? I think for most people it is a personal thing and nobody else really cares about your streak. Giving people a chance to donate this way doesn't hurt anything. People like to have options.


    I don't understand why anyone feels the need to judge other learners.

    You learn a language for yourself - your streak is for you, not to be better than other people.

    If someone pays, so what? Perhaps they had a day that they really couldn't go online. Maybe their phone was stolen. Or they went on holiday in the middle of the wilderness. Or a family member died. Do you really know enough to judge them?

    Get a grip.


    Did you even read the post? I never said anything against any other Duolingo user.


    They have introduced commercials in order to "provide" free access but it is not true , that in the middle of practising, they request money, I am learning on my i-pad


    Yes, I've heard the mobile apps have in-app purchases.


    I don't have an issue with paying to fix your streak, I think caring about a streak is silly any way. Money wont give you back that day you didn't study. I just wish it didn't bug me EVERY TIME I logged into the app. I don't want to pay, stop reminding me I forgot to go on a few days ago. I think it's a clever way to make revenue without actually giving better quality lessons behind a paywall.


    I think its a great idea to allow for paying to get lost streaks back, because its optional people, and this system is amazing and I'm grateful to be learning Brazilian Portuguese as fast as I am, for free!! Obrigado Duolingo ;)


    To streak or not to streak - that is the question... I don't want to do Duolingo every day. I want to give it a break for a day, a few days, a week - or longer. The streak means nothing to me at all. In fact, if Duolingo wanted to have a free version and a paid subscription I wouldn't mind -- providing it's not too expensive. I mean, really - what's five bucks?


    I love Duolingo. I wish it were 10 times longer and have way more lessons. I take the Spanish course and I love it. I would pay for it if they would do it. I have went through all the lessons and now I just go through them over and over trying to pick it up easier. Best app I have.


    Seems to me that there are enough comments by people who lost a high streak for what ever reasons, and then lost their motivation, that one can't say that a streak isn't important to some people.

    Either way, charging to maintain a streak isn't any skin off anyone's nose who doesn't care, or want to participate, so there's no real reason to be upset about it. It's become common now-a-days that people feel the need to get into an uproar over non-issues that would never affect them in the slightest.


    if it is worthless to you thats OK, but don’t stop others from supporting this great free ap. We are talking about tens of millions of users, some very intensely learning others just tasting different languages. It needs to stay on phones so that the third world and developing world can benefit from western technology, volunteers and someone needs to pay.


    I think it is sad that they offer to repair streaks for money. It makes the streak just that much more meaningless. It was bad enough to have a "streak freeze". A streak is either a streak or it isn`t. What comes next? Can I pay $5 and have them add another hundred to my streak? Why not? Apparently, everything else in this world is for sale.

    If duolingo wants to make money, how about offering lessons? In other words, a premium learning experience that builds on the present tree and bonus skills. I know many are against that idea but maybe we can finally get some improvements to the courses that are so badly needed. People have offered to pay for additional learning in the past. Maybe this is what is needed.

    Personally, if I should lose my streak in the future I will bid it a fond farewell and not look back. No way I will pay anything to restore it.


    I don't see how having additional paid lessons is a better solution, it would be very unfair to the people that wouldn't be able to pay and affects directly to the free language learning ideal that DL has


    I agree that paying for an otherwise free course does go against the principle but something needs to be done to get duolingo to improve the courses. If paying will do that and keep duolingo running then I`m willing to pay.


    I agree -- no shock there. I either get to work, or I don't. We go 100 days without an accident, or we don't. I exercise every day, or I don't. And so on. But if people are willing to pay something for nothing, I suppose . . .


    When I went over to Colombia, my streak freeze was used and then it was used again when I flew back, despite me using DL each day. So if I lost my streak because of this glitch then I would have been very cranky. I use my streak as a huge motivator. I lost my Memrise streaks and I haven't gone back on Memrise because I have lost my motivation. So in my experience, streak freezes are invaluable.


    I'm happy to pay for the service. I'm not happy to pay to repair a streak. Your entire system seems designed to motivate, encourage and reward language learning efforts. This is a punishment that comes without warning and seems not to work smoothly or reliably. I didn't tell others but I was proud of my 459 day streak and now it's vanished despite having a streak freeze up my sleeve and then trying to pay for the repair which unfortunately coincided with the time to update my credit card details and that seems to have messed up the repair purchase. I'm a massive advocate for the service and have put many people on to it. Have you considered charging for something extra, something desirable. Please reward us or tempt us. Don't punish us.


    I'd honestly be happy if yo had to purchase a Duolingo account in the first place, rather than this paying to repair streaks.

    For the most part, I think I'll get used to this.

    Oh, BTW, it's only on the mobile app. Not the website.

    Unfortunately, this means it's hard to get screenshots and other info about the streak repairs.


    I think paying to restore the streak is just cheating yourself. If you want to restore then STUDY!


    I totally agree.


    sorely disappointed Luis! I was doing really well...


    well, they should don't care about that, but now they make a donation to repair it, but people don't want to wast their money, i think thats the problem why that was a bad idea of that kind of A/B test.


    I would gladly pay a One Time fee of 20$ and not be bothered with all the gimmicks and adds.


    Paid for Duolingo Plus but after about two weeks. Went back to normal Duolingo. Paid for 6 months


    How can I communicate with the Duolingo representatives. Through this forum


    if you think the steak is useless, don't bother repairing it at all :P


    Actually I use the website on my phone, not the app.


    This is a very small fee. It would cost more to go to school to learn. I just do not like using credit card online thank you


    Jesus people- a streak is a streak- if its broken it's broken! Money cant really repair a broken streak! It just makes you a pay to win loser!


    If the streak is worthless, why do you care if you lost it?

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