A little idea to make levels more interesting
This is just a little proposal to the administrators of Duolingo, an idea that could make the whole levels idea more interesting.
I had this idea while using ResearchGate (it is a social network for researchers): over there, the quality of your research is evaluated on the basis of a score that depends on the quantity and the quality of your works. The interesting feature is that in your profile appears what is the relationship between your personal score and all the other users of ResearchGate (example: http://s12.postimg.org/a5mluw9nx/researchgate.png here the score is higher than 20% of ResearchGate users).
Coming to Duolingo, I think it would be interesting to introduce some features to compare the personal achievements to all the other users. I mean, I would like to know that, if I am level 11 in Spanish, then I am "better" than the 25% of the Spanish learners on Duolingo, and if I am level 17 in German, I am "better" thant the 70% of the German learners on Duolingo. The same could be done monthly / weekly: this week I've gained 731 XP in French? Something that says that I have improved more than 50% of French learners.
I don't know if this idea can be made true, but I give my little proposal to improve this wonderful language-learning tool :)
Duo needs to open up some statistics for this to be possible, but it sounds like a very interesting idea. However, when doing the levels and "better-than-blank" percent, how does one count whether or not a user is active? If a user did Basics 1 and left for a year, are they active? We need a system before we can go further.
Well, this could be solved by applying some threshold, e.g. this "better-than-blank" percent (probably blank going from 5 to 5, 5% 10%, 15%, etc.) takes into account all the users that have reached at least 100XP. This would eliminate most of the users that have just done "Basics1" and little more for curiosity sake. I would not care about users that stop to be active: if a user had reached level 26 in German and then left for a year, he would continue to be taken into account in the "Anytime" cathegory, and would be eliminated by the threshold in the monthly/weekly stats (probably different thresholds could be used, e.g. 10XP for the weekly, 50XP for the monthly, 100XP for the anytime, but however the exact and best value of these thresholds could be chosen by the developers of Duolingo after some tests)
mmm after thinking about my proposal, I am realizing that probably it would work better with XP than with levels :P
To a point, but levels don't go past 25.
I don't like the idea of 'better-than', but perhaps 'have more points than', 'translated more sentences than', 'longer streak than', etc.
Competition does motivate people. And it is an appropriate use of gaming strategies to get people to learn. I recently read a review of the Apple watch where the previous couch potato was getting up every hour and walking miles a day because the little circles on the watch would show that progress. Therefore I think your idea has merit. Design and implementation are the challenge. It would take some pretty creative ideas that could capture the daily motivations and the longer term motivations without ending up sounding crass or turning off some who are offended by competitive language. Nike fuel band uses a point system built on a mathematical formula so people of different activities have a way of measuring and motivating each other. Whatever creative mathematical formula Duolingo could come up with, it could be pictured graphically, like a speedometer or the eco-meter which one can see an easy to understand graphic that shows I am doing pretty good and can do this next little thing and do even better.
But I think your comment goes further than just better motivating a language learner past the beginner or intermediate doldrums. Duolingo has become a great doorway for budding polyglots. Look at all the language badges after people's names in the discussion forums. And these people and others who would be like them could be very motivated by aggressive statistics and comparisons with other equivalent learners.