Keeping Duolingo free and sustainable
A few months ago, I posted a thread about Duolingo's ongoing monetization efforts, and I wanted to follow up with an update.
Our mission is to bring free education to the world. To support this mission, we recently began rolling out sponsored content and unobtrusive occasional ads. As some of our most active users, you may have already seen a few examples in the Android app.
We believe everyone who wants to learn deserves free access to the tools and resources necessary. And as you can imagine, building and supporting these tools used by over 150 million people (like our 50+ language courses, an English certification test, a platform for educators, and a flashcards app) requires resources. We're committed to ensuring that our products remain free and accessible to as many learners as possible for as long as possible, and these ads will help make that commitment possible. In sum, ads are here to keep education free.
Even knowing all of this, I understand that ads may take some getting used to. Let me assure you that we’ve been very careful in testing that these easily skippable ads do not hurt engagement nor the learning experience. As always, we will be listening to the response from all of our learners and we greatly appreciate your continued support.
Sincerely, Luis (CEO) and the Duolingo Team
I don't mind the ads. But would it be possible for the message from Duolingo above the ad, which says something like," this ad helps to keep education free" to be written in the language you are learning?
Or like someone else suggested, ads in foreign languages with subtitles. :)
Good point. I would be far more likely to click on an ad in my target language.
However, one problem with that is good luck finding ads in Esperanto, Welsh, Guarani etc. that will be relevant and be marketing a product that the learner will want to buy...
ĉiu teksto devas esti tradukita al Esperanto nur
*use Google translate into your language (for 1st sentence), i.e. if Esperanto was the universal 2nd language, all ads/text would be in 2 languages - native & communication language(Esperanto) English is too complex/not neutral for comms. language :);
utilizar Google traducir a su idioma;
Thx for the official announcement!
Could this sticky message be (translated and) posted(*) in all other "main" forums (=of all languages)? And not only on the English forum.
I imagine the entire community would like to have such important news. ;)
Thx by advance!
(*) in a sticky way on each general forum.
I've been around since the beta days of Duolingo -- not every day, though! I love and admire what's been achieved. For me, Duo is one of the gems of the internet. It's a shining example of what the whole internet could be if those publishing on it had the vision and principles that Luis has. I love Duolingo, and I greatly admire Luis.
That said, I avoid sites that are exclusively funded by advertising unless there is an option to remove them or I can either pay to remove them. It's not the adverts themselves that I object to, but the advertising industry itself, which has acted appallingly time and time and time again to serve its own interests with scant regard for those affected. I'm sure Luis has the best intentions, but we've seen this increasing encroachment on users' privacy so many times.
I know there are many devoted Duolingoists that will hate me being negative towards Luis, our benevolent dictator, but I'd like you to know that I do understand the economics, and I also understand the change of internal dynamics that such a decision creates. The facts are that in addition to providing, now nominally free, language education, Duolingo also has the task of selling advertising. You can't brush this under the carpet. Things have changed.
I'm not going to pretend that this doesn't alter my relationship with Duolingo, because it does. Irrevocably. I am very interested to know what data will be shared with advertisers. A fact that is absent from Luis' announcement. I'd very much like the opportunity to pay to avoid the advertising, and I'd be delighted to pay, because I've long wanted to be able to support Duolingo financially.
I agree. Remember how Duolingo always would spout that they were free and ad free? Those were good days.
Sadly, the idea of privacy is not at all understood by most internet users. And, like me, many of us using free software don't have as many choices as those who can afford to pay. So, we are put in a position to use what works for us so we can learn and risk our privacy and identity.
Why can't Duolingo function like Wikipedia? ANYTIME the head of that organization has a fund-raising effort, it seems as though loads of users give. I know I do. It's even posted: "If every (Wikipedia) user gave $5, we'd have $XXmillion" or something. I HATE ads & I don't want to see them on Duo. I'll happily donate to DL just as I do to public radio, Wikipedia, etc. Further, Duolingo already gets FREE labor from of its moderators & FREE labor from a number of its course creators (as far as I know). It also beta-tests its products on FREE guinea-pigs (us). It seems to me that Duolingo already must have comparatively low overhead. Now we need ads? Are you SURE? If you had "donation drives" like public radio & Wikipedia, we users would GLADLY give you sufficient funds to continue--as a "non-profit." On the other hand, if Duo is hoping to take itself public & make a killing on the stock market, then ads are coming whether we like it or not. If that does happen, Duo can bloody well start paying the moderators & the course contributors & all of us beta-testers... They can also plan on waving goodbye to quite a few of users. I'd definitely bail. Ads will absolutely change--& disrupt--the 'learning experience.' I don't care WHAT language they're in. Youtube is hellish now with endless ads & all its users counting down the seconds 'til they can hit "SKIP AD." As for the 'rich vs poor ' issue, the public radio/Wikipedia pledge drive model is great. Everyone gives what they can afford. Easy. Duolingo must set forth its annual budget for all to see & base its 2 to 4 annual drives on those figures. If Duolingo doesn't meet its goal, extend the drive & inform users they have to dig deeper. Or improve their product so that users WILL donate enough. Radio Head, Louis CK, Prince prior to his death--lots of entertainers used a low ($5) 'donation per unit sale model' & made TONS of money via the Internet. Duolingo, headed up as it is by all those Bright Young Minds, can surely do the same. We end-users do NOT have to wade through a bunch of ads developed to manipulate & hijack our brains! It is NOT the only income-producing model out there. Come on, Duo Management--do your jobs! Innovate! Keep Duo cheap & ad-free. L&K, Marycpa (cpa = Certified Public Accountant)
I'm finde with the ads. They don't pop up until you're done with a lesson or a strengthen, and the ones I've seen have the good old continue button at the bottom, instead of a sometimes hard to find and very tiny x, as so many ads have on other sites. Keeping the site free is VERY important. I could (and would), pay for it, but I have students I recommend it to who couldn't.
Good point about a donate button -- Spybot is a free malware removal tool and I've donated to its creators via Paypal since I feel they provide a great service. I would do the same for Duolingo; it's made a positive difference for me, and the goal of free and open language education is a wonderful cause that we should make sure stays around. Thanks to all of you on the Duolingo team!
Yeah, that would be great. Being able to donate - just to express your thanks - would be nice. I can see people not wanting to donate for nothing, though. On the other hand, there are people as well that do not want to be inequal (those who have the extras for donating and those who don't).
Nevertheless, a donate button would be a great idea. Being able to donate $ 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 dollars at max.
DL should consider soliciting donations on a popular crowdfunding or crowd-giving site, or model its appeal for donations after a crowdfunding template. Also, DL should not be afraid to reach for the stars when setting donation tiers. There are plenty of angels out there, people who will pitch in $500, $1,000 or more to help out a worthwhile cause, just as there are those who will donate $1, $5 or $10.
I have just a question regarding this: If I assume that most classrooms are set up by real live educators the the classroom participants are in most cases children and adolescents - who are then obligaded to use Duo. Would it be possible to exclude them from receiving the advertisements? I am well aware that publicity space is sold by usage stats, but I do not quite like the idea to expose children to ads if it wouldn't be absolutely necessary?
Expose children to youtube and audibles? Most kids are familiar with youtube and I'm not sure what you have against promoting books to kids?
I don't know where you live but in my country not exposing children to ads means never letting them leave the house, listen to a radio, watch tv, read a newspaper, etc. Ads are everywhere; there are much worse things that children are exposed to then a youtube ad.
I think a lot of people feel that children shouldn't be a captive audience exposed to ads as a condition of their (required) education, even if they do encounter ads all over the place in their daily lives.
The difference is this: If I don't want to see the ads on Duolingo, I have the option to stop using Duolingo. Students whose teachers require them to use Duolingo do not have that option.
Yes, you are absolutely right on this. But seeing my grand child growing up in this world I wonder if I might ask if it could be slightly improved?
Sorry if someone has asked this before - I can't see it. Are we talking about spying on people to target ads in the way that many other sites do if you give them the chance, or is everyone to see the same ads regardless of age/location/browsing habits? And do we get to opt out of seeing ads that we find offensive again?
Are we talking about spying on people to target ads in the way that many other sites do if you give them the chance,
This would be down to the advertiser and whether they use aggregate data from the likes of web beacons, not Duolingo. Granted, there's allegedly "ethical" web advertisers out there, but I'm not sure if the site could be funded entirely through Project Wonderful's webcomic ads...
(Not to say I'm okay with the way advertisers and data trackers handle privacy. I just find it hard to imagine a viable alternative, as far as advertising goes.)
Ads came to Android first but the good features come to iOS first? Someone to explain me if it is really?
Sentence discussions are not in the "good features" I said, and it is very strange iOS doesn't has this feature yet because it's not new and lot of people says "It's easier to develop for iOS", in any case, sentence discussions cannot be compared to a tinycards app, new characters in sentences and chat with bots that iOS already has!
You said that the good feature come to iOS first, it's pretty hard to argue that it's true 1) sentence discussions are a good feature and 2) iOS doesn't have them. You can't just pick and choose which good features you're complaining about and say oh, but I didn't mean those. The fact is, Android has an actual useful, important piece of functionality that isn't available within the iOS app.
Frankly, I think sentence discussions are a much better, more useful feature than tinycards, and if I had the choice, I'd pick having sentence discussions over the tinycards app any day of the week.
New characters in sentences? Do you mean the little cartoon people? That's only in certain languages anyway, and it's hardly a huge step forwards in learning - it's a cute cosmetic touch, that's all. Honestly, it's not something to write home about or get jealous over, and it's only in a minority of languages anyway. It has very little impact on actual learning, and for people like me, who mostly don't study the core languages Duolingo offers, it has had little to no effect.
Android also got the ability to report errors before iOS did, which meant that courses used to come out on Android some time before they came out on iOS. That has changed now, but I didn't go around whining because I had to use the website a little longer than if I had an Android device.
The chatbots are only available on iPhones anyway, and then only in a few languages. They had to start somewhere - as I understand it, there's relatively little that can be directly migrated from an iOS app to an Android app or vice versa, and it's painfully obvious Duolingo don't have the staff to work on too many projects at once. They chose iOS. Big deal. Tain't something to throw your toys out of the pram over.
The only actual gains in terms of language learning that iOS has over Android at the moment are tinycards (which frankly ain't that good if I'm being honest), and fairly limited chatbots in a tiny minority of languages available on some iOS devices. That pretty much completely fails to wow me.
Android folks have access to the sentence discussions and also have (if memory serves) a more comprehensive report function (closer to what's available on the website: the iOS report function is decidedly lacking).
Frankly, in terms of actual learning, aka what this website is supposed to be about, Android users are ahead of the game with the sentence discussions, and the semi-functional report feature on iOS is a huge stumbling block to contributing to making the courses better.
Honestly, I think Android users who actually care about learning are doing pretty well there. If I could swap my cute lil cartoon characters in a handful of languages, tinycards and early access to chatbots for actually being able to get to sentence discussions from the app (even with added adverts), I would do so in a heartbeat. Sadly, that would involve buying a new device purely for the sake of Duolingo, which I can't afford. I do have access to a Kindle Fire version of the Android app, but said version hasn't been updated in over a year, it doesn't even have Russian on it.
Pretty pictures and a somewhat lacking flashcards app are not nearly so useful.
Hi from a Windows phone-using peasant! Our app does not have sentence discussions, cartoon characters, chatbots, flashcards or forum access, and a very limited range of languages. But I still appreciate its usefulness on the many occasions when my laptop cannot connect to the Internet....
I also consider sentence discussions useful. But they are not Android exclusive. They can be accessed through the website, even on iOS devices. Whereas I can use neither Tinycards nor Duobots as I don't have an iOS device. :-( Tinycards has been out for a few months now, it was supposed to be "coming soon" to other platforms. I think they should have taken care of that first before releasing something else exclusively for iOS.
I enjoy and appreciated Duo and want to thank you so much for everything you've done to create and sustain it, Luis. I have complete confidence you'll make the best choices possible for its future. Personally, I don't have a huge problem with skippable ads. I would prefer if the ads could be in the target language (the one(s) we're learning), but this isn't a deal breaker.
Not only would it be nice to have the ads in your target language, but what would be even better would be to have the ads for products that language learners are likely to buy anyway, such as bilingual books, study aids, and audio and video products in your target language.
I think that's a good idea. They could do that in the forums with affiliate links of some sort, they could have a tab of ads so we wouldn't see them unless we were looking for something to buy and if each ad was a forum post we could up-vote or down-vote them.
if the ads could be in the target language
Awesome idea! Still want to see this implemented if possible.
So does that mean the computer version of Duolingo receive ads soon?
As long as Duolingo is making money, that's fine with me.
I haven't read all of the comments, and this may have been suggested, but have you thought about applying for EU minority language funding? There is quite a bit of money there for that sort of thing, and seeing as you have Irish, Welsh and Catalan, you should qualify for one of the many schemes. Also, pretty much anything that is not French, German or English might actually qualify, I remember when I was applying for Erasmus, there was extra money there for Italian language training, as it wasn't one of the big three. It could be worth chasing up.
Super idea! Do you have any idea of the amounts of money involved? Or maybe we should all apply individually and donate the money to DL?
In 2007, I was told I could have €330 towards Italian or Swedish courses. Not sure we'd be able to apply individually, as the grant was for classroom-based training, but Duolingo might be able to apply for providing learning opportunities in its various languages. The Irish government also has various schemes aimed at preserving the Irish language, and Duolingo would surely fall under that particular umbrella, it has done great work promoting the language.
After Albania and Kovoso start making more progress towards EU membership, maybe they'd (EU'd) kick in toward an Albanian course. (Navaho would probably not be covered, though.) Do the courses have to be provided by a EU firm, do you remember?
As a regular user, I fully support your efforts in this regard. That said, please don't lose sight of R and D. It seems this has been placed on the back-burner for some time and given the competition, which you don't need me to tell you about, foregoing this most important aspect of your business may be the undoing of this potentially revolutionary idea. Best regards and thank you for keeping it free for all!
Open up donations and the more you donate the more costumes you get for the owl like on Android. I'd probably drop $50 or $60
I think that if there's going to be any reward for donations, it should be something like the costumes for the owl--cosmetic changes that have no effect whatsoever on language learning/access to content. There are people who would donate just to get those, but it doesn't create a two-tiered structure where the people who can't afford to pay for language learning (the people for whom Duolingo was envisioned in the first place) are blocked off from accessing educational content.
Perhaps Duolingo should set up a Patreon page so that those who wish to donate may do so, apart from the Duolingo website. That way, there would be no pressure to contribute funds on Duo's website itself, enabling distraction-free language learning, but those who wanted to could still financially support Duolingo on a regular basis. It would also engage a broader community, inclusive of people who may not bother to learn languages themselves but who still believe in the vision of Duolingo and wish to support it. Of course, there are logistics with setting up and running a Patreon, but it would provide a steady revenue stream and another avenue to build its community.
This may not be the best idea, but it is definitely one worth considering. What do you think?
If I was learning Italian, for example, it would be nice to see Italian ads. For immersion.
I guess the problem is that italian advertisers are interested in having people who live in Italy and can buy their products read their ads.
Please add a donate button, I know many users including myself who would be happy to donate even a tiny amount towards this great service.
Yeah, if there really are millions of Duolingo users like they say, if they each donated even one dollar, that would be one million dollars right there. Even a kid could make one dollar, picking up bottles and cans.
I just want to say, its hilarious that you are reassuring us that your testing says we don't mind.
Some of you might be angry, but our testing says, actually, you don't mind.
What Luis actually said was, "Let me assure you that we’ve been very careful in testing that these easily skippable ads do not hurt engagement nor the learning experience. " That's not exactly the same as participants "not minding" the ads. They may simply be more or less willing to put up with them.
That said, a discrepancy between test results and the most visibly-stated opinions doesn't necessarily mean either that the people expressing those opinions are insincere or that the test results are inaccurate. The people who disagree with ads most strongly are probably more likely, on average, to be really vocal about their feelings about the ads.
I agree that all that is correct. But he offered his assurance, presumably to those alarmed by the advertisements, that the advertisement testing preformed as duolingo desired.
Or Perhaps was assuring the community, alarmed by the vocality of the detractors that the majority was not of the same mind. But the other interpretation, is far more fun.
I would imagine their testing frequently says exactly what they want it to say.
I have been wondering about the sponsored content - does this mean part of the lessons will be "branded" in some way?
If you have to do adds it is what it is; though like many of the others I would rather see a crowd funding approach.
My biggest concern would be the amount of bandwidth or of my own computers CPU or memory they take. Some of us don't have the amazing equipment and internet service it takes to run a large deal of adds today and if we can't load a simple 250mb lesson page because a 700G ad keeps making the page crash we may be driven away no mater how much we love the site.
That being said there are several examples of unobtrusive ads out there that don't cause pages to constantly reload; and if you somehow managed to get them for our target language that would be great.
I see books in the target language, travel advertisements to locations where the language is spoken, tutoring services, websites and apps in the target language , games in the travel language, and much more being successful.
How will the target language be determined? Is it an algorithm build into the coding that tells the add system what language to display ads in? Or is it a bot like feature that scans the words on the page and tries to guess the language? I hope it's not the second - bots always seem to think Esperanto is Italian.
Lol! An exaggeration but you get what I mean - an ad that takes so much to load that the computer and or the connection can't handle it. I know people are going to say just upgrade the computer; but didn't one of the staff on this discussion say that the reason Duolingo started was so that those of us who can't otherwise afford good language training would have access to it for free? This purpose is defeated if we have to spend extra money ourselves on a better system or to upgrade our own builds just so some resource heavy ads can load when we do our daily studying here.
"Upgrading the computer" is not a solution for me. I have a decent computer, and fibre optic cabling within my own dwelling. I also have a download speed of 215kbps on a good day - because of the state of the cables of the local exchange (which has no plans to upgrade).
Cable service? No cable optic company is ever going to consider laying cables here. Satellite services? "We cannot provide coverage to your area" (and erection of satellite dishes here is forbidden by local bye-laws anyway).
This is the reality of rural life. (In exchange, the views from my windows are beautiful, I admit.)
Not everyone lives in cities. Forced ad-viewing will lose Duolingo a lot of customers, not out of pique but because the site will no longer be usable. And the remoter users are precisely the ones who have no alternative options.
Would a good ad-blocking software solve these concerns? I know that wouldn't make Duolingo any more money, but it might help to solve the connection problem if the ads are eventually put onto the website.
Depends - most add blockers are iffy (often blocking regular pictures and videos as well as actual advertisements or only blocking some ads). I find I can get around most of the heavy ads by turning on my Flash blocker (which only allows flash to play if I tell it to) as the more resource hungry ads use flash still.
To be honest, I don't know. I find my ad-blocker works effectively on some sites, but others just freeze. I think it would depend on the details of how the ads are integrated into the Duolingo software.
My concern is that our CEO's intentions to "take into account intrusiveness" seem purely focussed on how the visuals affect the learning experience, rather than addressing the physical intrusiveness that may preclude access to the service.
I am also very conscious that I live in a relatively wealthy country, where citizens in my position are not the majority. Many international Duolingo users live in countries with a less developed infrastructure.
Good point I have over 135GB ps and ads and tracking makes sites difficult to use on a phone
i'm with harryclark17, duolingo has been and is such a great gift that if i have to see an ad every so often then so be it. i'm so grateful for duolingo having the mindset and willingness to offer and share their knowledge with the world for free. could you imagine what this world would be like if everyone was given an exemplary education for free? Understanding, kindness, generosity, etc., the list would go on and on. thank you for creating such a wonderful program...there are so many people throughout the world that have been able to benefit and grow as individuals because of duolingo... many thanks!!
Thanks so much for the update! I have no problem with ads at all. Actually, I've gotten so used to ignoring ads on every other website I use regularly (Facebook, my email, etc) that I honestly don't even notice them anymore. They certainly don't ruin my experience of using those sites, and I don't expect they would ruin my experience with Duolingo either. I also like the ideas others have suggested of having the ads in the target language, I would be much more likely to pay attention to them in that case.
I don't have an income while I'm in school, so I can't afford to pay anything for language education at the moment. If ads are what it takes to keep Duolingo free, then I am all for it! :-)
As long as they're not going to be like those multiple choice "quizzes " used on Sporcle and elsewhere before you can access the content (Which of the following brands of smartphone do you trust?...How often do you upgrade your model?...For which reasons listed below have you purchased a smartphone in the past?...and on and on), I don't think the majority of people will mind discreet unobtrusive ads.
The ads are perfect. They come from reputable sources and are not intrusive. I click them when I first see them, hopefully that helps. Keep Duolingo free! I'd support these ads on all platforms including PC, and I wouldn't even mind Facebook-style banner ads worked into the sidebar for example. This is a good thing, hope you guys are on your way towards turning an operating profit!
How about this idea: immersion-style translation exercises where users get to translate the text of the ad into their target language. Immersion might still make Duolingo money, even if not as it was first envisioned!
Most advertisers are going to be very reluctant to trust their content to crowd-sourced translation of varying degrees of accuracy. In addition, that would probably still run afoul of the same problems with EU labor laws that the old immersion system had/has.
Do you know exactly what the labour law problem is? I have been trying to look at the legislation, and I can't work it out.
As far as I know, as an EU citizen, I can donate my money to a company (crowdfunding). So why can't I "donate" my time (i.e. my labour in a similar way.
I would be quite willing to sign a disclaimer to the effect that "I am hereby donating a proportion of my labour to this enterprise" if that would enable Duolingo to revive immersion.
Thought: it is quite usual for crowdfunded projects to reward donors. How about a mechanism whereby a donation to Duolingo via crowdfunding buys me access to "Premium immersion", which then pays me for my contributions (up to a cap of the money I donated?)
IDK - I would just love to be able to take part in the immersion system ...
Thanks, I think I understand the concept now.
By providing a commercial service (translation) using labour (us) that they pay below the minimum wage (i.e. nothing), Duolingo undercuts European companies who are obliged by law to pay the minimum wage. This constitutes unfair competition.
As an American company, Duolingo can probably ignore what the EU thinks of their business model... UNTIL they become a company operating in the EU, by employing a labour force in the EU (work by people who reside in the EU) to produce their product.
The problem is not the free translation of material - it is the fact that Duolingo charge for the results.
Immersion would be legal (probably - copyright issues are a seperate thing, but could be solved) if Duolingo were not charging for the results. (However, that defeats their purpose of using this model for funding.)
Otherwise they can avoid the issue by not using any EU labour - which means EU residents cannot be involved in any part of the process of producing their product (either uploading or contributing to the translation).
i) they may run into similar legal issues in other jurisdictions ii) the quality of translation from and to European languages is likely to be severely affected if you exclude all EU residents from participating. How large is the pool of native Danish speakers residing outside the EU (for example)? How many customers will be willing to pay for a translation that has had little input from native speakers?
I'm no lawyer. But I can see now why Duolingo's are earning their pay...
EDIT: maybe my suggestion of paying us from a crowdfunded pool that we contributed could resolve this??
"By providing a commercial service (translation) using labour (us) that they pay below the minimum wage (i.e. nothing), Duolingo undercuts European companies who are obliged by law to pay the minimum wage. This constitutes unfair competition."
In your above quoted statement, what if you replace "(translation)" by "(advertising space in courses written by EU residents)"?
@Cindergurl: these are the Terms and Conditions: https://www.duolingo.com/terms. The relevant clause is No. 19.
It refers only to documents used in immersion (because these are the ones Duolingo makes money out of).
Contributing to Duolingo in any other way is completely fine.
@Sitesurf: I think you make an excellent point. I am not a lawyer, but I think your interpretation could be argued...
I know that DuoLingo has stopped developing immersion for new courses, but I really want to know what will happen to the courses that already have it. Will this feature continue to exist in the future?
No-one knows. Duolingo have been conspicuously quiet on the subject. New accounts aren't given access to Immersion, which is the first thing I'd do if I wanted to get rid of it.
The second thing I'd do is start removing Immersion from the accounts that already exist, but which don't use it. Let's wait and see...
Oh snap, I better do some heavy XP farming on French before it's gone.
I don't want ads. Ads are intrusive, and will spoil Duolingo in many ways.
I want Duolingo to be viable. If you need ads, please give me a way to opt out.
I also suggest accepting donations to turn off ads for everyone. Make it a monthly fund drive, and show a thermometer graph on the splash screen to show how close we are to donating enough to turn off all ads this month, and fund Duolingo through donations.
Also please consider offering a subscription donation like Patreon. You could give Lingot as a reward.
The ads I've seen so far appear only on my phone, and are certainly appropriate for the site. One is for the you-tube music service, and two for different audiobook services. The ads do not have their own close button hidden in a corner as so many ads annoyingly do, you use the same continue bar that you use for everything else in Duolingo, and they have an explanation for the reason they appear at the top of the page. Of the sites I use that have ads, these are the least obtrusive, and the most suited to the content of the rest of the site. Good job here, as with everything else. Sites can determine who they allow to advertise with them, and it appears Duo has been selective.
I really, really hate ads, and would gladly pay money to avoid having them, but I agree with everything you write about the way advertising is done in the app.
Unfortunately I have to skip through the ads, Behind them are bulky websites. I don't have a flat rate on my mobile devices. They run on a substantial charge. And ads not in my language are a waist. How about having a donation page ? Preferably accessible from the PC, not necessarily from the smartphone. It is apparent for everyone that the infrastructure and the necessary employees are not for free. There are some here that are in the fortunate position to make a donation. Better getting the money together quick than being bought by some big player..
I just had a chuckle when I read "And ads not in my language are a waist." I think you meant "waste", not "waist". I had the picture in my head of someone wearing a sponsored belt.
I do agree that it is better to sacrifice a little to get Duolingo into a financially sound position so that it does not get bought out, but that may mean you have to endure the mobile charge for the advertisements or talk to your cell phone company about getting a better data plan. It's a smaller price to pay than if Duolingo charged for content.
A donation page is a good idea. There are other non-commercial projects like Duo that have created a donation page and they're successful without losing its characteristics.
Duolingo is actually set up as a corporation, not as a non-commercial entity.
As long as it is not like Google. Their alterations to you tube make it nearly impossible to read subtitles and a lot of Google Play appts are nag-ware popups which make it impossible to study or nearly so.
Hi Luis and the Duolingo Team. May I suggest you to have a look to these discussion forums. https://www.duolingo.com/comment/19226429 https://www.duolingo.com/comment/19226428 Duolingo is a great tool, but when you have finished the tree, the only way to improve you knowledge of the language is the immersion menu. This is a specificity of DL and we thank you for it.
I just want to take this opportunity to say that I think you guys have done an awesome job picking out ads. I don't have any complaints so far. I would also be cool with a having a donate button somewhere. But whatever you guys have to do I wholeheartedly support it. Thank you so much for creating this awesome website and app!
Honestly I'm fine with the ads, they're very unobtrusive compared to most sites. If you guys did implement a donate option or a premium version instead, I'd gladly pay though. Either way, whatever it takes to keep it accessible for everyone. Keep up the great work Duo!
I was wondering - as a software developer in my day job, is there any way I can contribute to duolingo? Just like the course developers volunteer to create the courses, is there a volunteer program for devs to help fix bugs etc?
I can't tell you how happy I am to be a part of Duo Lingo. I am a 92 year old widow and enjoy having a man in the house teaching me French to ease my boredom. I am a Huguenot but never met any of my relatives. When I get to heaven I'll ask for a place in the "French Quarter." Thanks again.
After reading some of the comments here, I have to chime in because I know this is a touchy subject for people.
Anyone who has commented saying "I'll delete the app" or "I won't use it" if it has ads, here's my response...Stop using it then!
Luis and the Duolingo team have created/developed an incredible platform for you to use for free. What you don't see, is the man and woman power and the hundreds of thousands of dollars it costs to maintain and improve a platform like this for 150 million plus users.
As an app developer myself, I know how much design, programming, hosting, and updating costs. It is frustrating as a developer to have people complain about your app or system when they have paid absolutely nothing to use it.
My suggestion to Luis is to find a way to charge a low monthly fee for extra features or for removing ads altogether. I obviously don't claim to know your business but in my experience, free can only last so long until you monetize. Unless your investors are just investing out of the kindness of their hearts.
Even if you do integrate ads, I will still use the app/site and recommend to everyone I know. You all have done an incredible job making this platform.
I know you're supposed to listen to your users for feedback and that's great, you need to maintain a fluid UX and all but you know what...if you shed a few hundred thousand users because boo hoo hoo they don't want to see ads...that is there loss.
Show me another platform like yours that they can use that won't charge them anything eventually. And even if there is another one...they won't be able to sustain their business forever on the free model without monetizing in some way.
If people can't handle ads or the developer trying to monetize someway (again done within reason) then they shouldn't be using the service at all. People have nothing to complain about if they have to see an ad once and a while compared to the value you have given them...for nothing.
A huge problem in our society is that people are so used to getting everything "for free" on the internet or on the App Store, that they are completely naive to who and what pays for it.
Somebody has to.
So for those of you who say "the ads are too intrusive", "I'll stop using the app if you put ads in it", I say, stay off the platform then, you're just making it faster for the rest of us to use.
If you think the ads "waste" your time, think about all of the ads you would be seeing on other non-productive, non-educational apps that you would be using instead.
If you think your time is so valuable, then use it to go make yourself more money and pay for your own private language tutor to teach you a new language and stop complaining about awesome people and services that are trying to make the world a better place.
I have no complaint against the premise that Duolingo should seek ways to monetise. I thoroughly support the monetisation through translation concept and am quite willing to support it with my time and effort.
My concern is that the insertion of ads may prevent me accessing the service - not because I am waltzing off in a fit of pique, but because the increased bandwidth involved to display video causes the webpage to timeout and fail to load.
Paying for a service with time rather than money is a perfectly reasonable way to maintain an excellent free service.
Implementing the concept in a manner than precludes a proportion of potential and current users from continuing to access the site is problematic.
So Immersion is gone! Disaster!!! That was the feature I used constantly and learned from by far the most. Why not ask for donations? I'd be gland to donate. That's still keeping it free. A few ads won't hurt either. But please bring back immersion. Not only has my French improved, I've made two good friends, one from South Africa and one from France.
Hi Liz. Apparently it is a bug. Luis said they were fixing it. Let's hope it won't be too long... Big bug I think...
I really enjoy Duolingo, it's such a great app and a "game" that has educational value. Sometimes I login and get 20 points and other days its 200. I think that ads are a great idea if they help generate revenue.
I think a donate button would be a nice addition too and maybe a "premium" duolingo where there were no ads but had a monthly fee? These are just some ideas I have for an already great app.
please keep up the amazing work! :)
I am all for this idea as long as the ads are safe. Thank you for sharing this information! I know I would be ticked if I logged on one morning and found ads on the Home page without knowing anything about it.
Thanks for the update, Luis. I really don't mind the ads, since I just click past them.
It just seems so weird to see ads on a site that has been ad-free for so long, and I know other people will probably agree with me too.
But then again, you have to think about the fact that ads aren't really that bad. You guys are trying your best to make money and still keep education free for all of us to learn, so the ads aren't that bad at all. If you made new features that you had to pay for, and they were a part of your language learning, that would be a bummer.
Anything that does not restrict people from learning a language entirely for free is ok by me.
There's still third-party websites which claim that Duo makes money by crowdsourcing ebook translations. Oops.
Well, Duolingo is hardly responsible for third-party websites not updating their descriptions of the site.
...I wasn't claiming that they were or saying that this was a Big Problem and I am Very Upset? I just thought it was an interesting note.
One reason was a legal problem with using EU residents as translators (see the first footnote of the Duolingo Wikipedia article).
Another, which I know I've read in interviews but now can't find one to link to, was that they didn't want to become a translation business, but focus on learning.
Thank you. I have no idea how to access immersion (and had not attempted to do so), but I had assumed that this was because I have not yet completed a tree. (I am learning 2 new languages here, whilst trying not to lose those that I previously studied elsewhere.)
I am unclear, having followed your link and thence to the Duolingo T&Cs, what the legal issue is with using EU citizens as translators or our uploading documents. Do you know?
I am aware that the copyright laws in my country are more stringent than those in the US, but I would have thought that that issue could be resolved by our warranting that we are not uploading documents that are still subject to copyright in our own country, and that likewise we will not contribute to translation of documents still protected by copyright in our own country.
I'm not sure, but I rather remember it as a problem of having EU users work (do translations) for free on a commercial product, rather than the material itself being copyrighted. It was never explained very well by Duolingo, as far as I remember. (Duolingo also used to have an age limit of 13, but it doesn't anymore, so that might have affected things...).
It certainly wasn't a question of having completed a tree: When Immersion was still all the rage, you'd get ads from Duolingo trying to entice you to translate something there after you'd finished a lesson, even if you weren't even nearly finished with the tree yet.
It is amazing how little people object to adds. I suppose most people are already so immersed by them (or dare I say 'Americanized') that they don't experience it as something unwanted anymore. Poor development in my add-free opinion.
Where do you live? The reaction to ads (one d) as anything else is cultural specific. Your name makes me think German? Kultur bedingt.
Yeah, like most here, I definitely agree with keeping Duolingo free. I haven't seen any ads so far, but I also would definitely donate some cash to you guys. I've used DL for years, and people often comment on how good my Spanish is despite having not-so-good instruction in school. Now I am in AP Spanish, which is like 95% in Spanish and can understand all of it for the most part. I definitely wouldn't be adverse to donating at least a few dollars a month.
Sad... Duolingo should be like Wikipedia, ad-free and supported by donations.
Is it the first time that android comes before the iPhone with new 'possibilities'?
Isn't (wasn't) it the case that the iPhone app doesn't (didn't?) have sentence discussions?
My goodness, that is indeed a huge minus! When the sentences discussions were down for a few days for Android, I really felt I was missing something (even though I was only regilding, not learning)...
It's really annoying. There is a decided mismatch between various versions of Duolingo.
I usually use the app because it's just so convenient, and I can get over the "too easy" aspect by figuring out the answer before I look at the words it's giving me, for instance, but there's no trick to getting around the lack of sentence discussions except using the website (not especially user friendly on iPad) or going to search for specific sentences in the forum, which doesn't always work. (I don't think they appear in the forums till someone has actually commented... as far as I can work out, anyway.)
I'd like to see both TN and sentence discussions added to all versions of the app.
I do have access to a Kindle fire... but that hasn't had an update since September 2015, so it doesn't even have Russian, never mind anything more recent.
Well.....I was thinking the same! I think Duolingo is getting awesome more and more!!!! .....for iOS users.
I remember when Android used to get languages before iOS (because the iOS version lacked the ability to report sentences), and it still has sentence discussions which the iOS version does not - a huge lack. If I could choose between sentence discussions + adverts versus ad-free + no sentence discussions... I'd go for the ads in a heartbeat.
I think it's a stretch to imagine there's favouritism happening.
Nobody said there's favouritism happening at least I just mean EVERYTHING should come to iOS and Android at the same time, bad idea? I don't think so! About liking the X version instead the Y version it is "EVERY MAN TO HIS TASTE"!
Impractical idea. Very few apps introduce new features to the iOS and Android versions at the same time.
Impractical idea? Why? It would be the ideal to do, not? What other apps have to do with Duolingo's way? If they decide they will launch at the same time for both platforms their new ideas they can accomplish! They CAN! So, not impractical! They may have a motive but as an user I can suggest!
Yes, as a user, you can suggest anything you want, but you're very unlikely to get it.
Why not provide both options to the consumers? For those that would rather use the free version, you can have a "lite" app which includes adds. For those that hate looking at adds can have the option to upgrade to Duolingo Plus and get ad free access. Just an idea if there is an uproar. Me personally, I'm all about the app being free. However, many people don't mind paying a little bit to avoid ads.
Enable payments to get rid of ads. Give us options to help you. I'm sure some would pay like $5 or more /month to get rid of ads.
Ads spy on you and spread malware. I'll be blocking them and always recommending that everyone else do, for their safety. I'd rather pay for the service (but not just for the privilege of removing ads. I won't be held hostage)
Also, I don't believe that the crowdsourced translation as a revenue stream had to fail. You didn't implement immersion very well. You built it poorly so it incentivized negative behaviors. You needed to keep fine tuning it to encourage correct, natural (not literal) translations, but instead you said the concept doesn't work and gave up. Wrong. Your implementation doesn't work. Do it better.
As far as I remember, EU labour laws and a wealth of issues with copyright and what constitutes a public domain work (particularly the fact that copyright laws aren't even consistent across Western Europe, or the US and Canada, let alone globally) scuttled any plans to monetise immersion before the poor community became an issue.
It would be easy to monetise in another way. Allow users to pay a subscription fee to access Immersion for a specific language. It would not be difficult to control what users get which content (or just avoid this completely by using Creative Commons texts) based on their billing address.
It would be easy to monetise in another way. Allow users to pay a subscription fee to access Immersion [...]
Unfortunately, Duolingo abandoned (the development of) Immersion long ago. So they'll not develop anything (monetizing or something else) relying on Immersion (except, of course, if they decide to reverse their few years old strategic decision to abandon (the development of) Immersion.
See also this other comment in this discussion
It would be easy to monetise in another way.
Here there seems to be one that Duo is currently testing.
Wikipedia every year has a "donation" drive. When you are using it during that time there's a banner across the top to tell you that if everyone who uses it gives just a little they can continue to do what they do. I really like this approach. It just reminds me when I'm using it that "Hey, these free resources cost money to provide so since you are getting use out of it can you give a little if you can." It's very unobtrusive and not pushy but it is a good reminder to donate if you can to free services that you are using. I'd be willing to do the same with Duolingo. It's an amazing service.
I would love to support you guys. Do you have a way to donate? Or a pay to not see ads option?
One thing that really concerns me that I'm not seeing addressed here is a safety concern. Many people don't realize that ads are the main cause now of malware ending up on computers. It's a very well known fact that advertising companies don't care much about our privacy, but they also don't care about our computers. One of the most common repairs that has to be done to a computer now is the removal of malware. When malware removal gets to the point of someone paying for a computer repair, that very often is going to result in a hard drive wipe and restore to factory defaults and lost data.
So my question is, how is Duolingo going to ensure the safety of our computers as well by ensuring that the ads are clean? If we can't get a satisfactory answer on that, a lot of users will just use adblock or similar add ons for their browser so they don't have to deal with ads. I don't object to viewing ads that are actually just images. I object to the fact that many ads embed harmful malware into what appears to be a harmless image via scripting or even into the image itself because even an image file can be malware. That's far worse than an obtrusive ad will ever be. That doesn't even get into the results a malware infection can have, which can at times lead to annoying ads on sites that don't even have them, and those ads can contain scams and porn. Do we want that in schools that use Duolingo? Probably not. So please do consider a fair way to ensure the ads are clean as well.
You are making an excellent point about safety. Malware removal costs are a major financial burden on private users. Part of the business vision of Duolingo is to empower the disadvantaged through education, yet these are people for whom a malware infection may remove computer access completely, due to being unable to afford the cost of repair.
But you have made me aware of another safety issue. It is assumed that Duolingo would not accept "indecent images" as part of its advertising, particularly since it targets the schools market. But censorship laws differ widely internationally. The US and the UK have very liberal laws on censorship. Images that seem innocuous in the US (such as a woman wearing shorts, or a same sex couple holding hands) could be construed as "pornography" or "promoting homosexuality" in other countries, where possession of such material is a criminal offence.
If I sign on to an American website, I accept that the images there will be judged acceptable by American moral standards. I take responsibility for the risk involved that they may include images that are not permitted in the country that I am in an at the time.
But Duolingo is aimed at an international market. If it intends to force images onto my computer or phone, through compulsory advertising, I want to be very sure that they do not cause me to be in contravention of the law of the country in which I am travelling.
I think it is pretty common for ads to be regionally-targetted. For one thing, this benefits companies/organizations/political parties that are not international.
But how is that done? The most common method is by OS regionalisation, which would give me advertising to my country of origin.
To target advertising by current location would require me to keep GPS tracking on. This is not something that Duolingo currently requires, and I would not welcome its introduction.
Actually another common method is based off IP address, which is actually the most commonly used by internet based services. All devices that connect to the internet will have an IP address and IP addresses do have geographical information attached to them. While it's not perfect for getting what city the person is in, it is pretty solid for determining country, outside of users willfully changing that with a proxy service (which isn't uncommon for people to access content they wouldn't be able to access in their country).
But surely that fits my original point? Someone who is temporarily in another country is likely to be using a proxy service in order to be able to continue to access their company's mainframes.
ladynadiad is right. How would Duolingo, advertisers, or anyone else even go about finding out one's country of origin (unless one fills it out somewhere)? Never mind verifying that information...
As I said above, the most common method that I have encountered is by the regionalisation options chosen when installing the operating system. Although I have known people who use a different OS to the version prescribed for their country (because they belong to an ethnic minority, so their native language is not the official language of that country), most people do not alter their location at this level, because they are not fluent enough in a second language to be comfortable with having the interface entirely in that language.
Similarly, changing the OS when relocating is a level of hassle most users do not bother with. This is why country of origin is often used. IP addresses, as ladynadiad has said, can be easily changed via proxies (whether for legitimate purposes or to circumvent legislation) and GPS tracking switched off.
So, the choices are:
(i) via origin (OS, or similar metric): may well deliver ads inappropriate to location
(ii) via IP: if a proxy service is used, as is common with travellers, the same still applies
(iii) via GPS tracking: an invasion of privacy, if Duolingo users are required to keep location tracking on, which may have unhealthy consequences for users in countries whose authorities take an interest in their international connections.
Still, none of the technological ways you list are a way of knowing people's country of origin... Quite a few of us here in Europe will have purchased our gadgets in one country, live in another, use the language settings of a third... None of these tell you anything about the origin of the users. You'd be surprised how many people are fluent enough in other languages to use their gadgets entirely in those.
I don't doubt that many people are capable of doing this (I know several personally); but I strongly doubt that all are. There should not be a linguistic competence hurdle to using Duolingo while travelling,
I'm not talking about people travelling, just people going about their normal business using their gadgets in the countries they are now based in. And I don't understand how any of this has anything to do with any "linguistic competence hurdles" -- I thought the discussion was about advertising and how to focus it. My point was and is that Duolingo can't know people's country of origin and thus can't focus advertising based on it.
Which means that either they (a) do not target advertising by region (which leads to the issues noted in my original post) or (b) target via present location (which leads to demands to leave location tracking enabled)
If the ads aren't like those ones that pop up when I'm trying to do something like type in the answer, I'm totally fine with seeing ads to help pay for Duolingo. Duolingo's great, all the better because freeee!
Android users need to wait for tinycards and bots, but can have the ads first? Seems backwards. Very disappointed.
My concern about advertising is its effect on site usability. I have a poor Internet connection (due to location), and frequently drop out of lessons midway through involuntarily, because my connection was lost. C'est la vie!
But video loading is considerably more intensive than a textbased page and audio files. I find there are many web pages that carry advertising that I now cannot access at all, not because of the form of their intended content, but because the increased slowness caused by the video loading causes the page to timeout of my browser.
If you are going to require me to watch a certain number of advertising videos per month, in order to maintain my account, then I cannot pretend that I will be particularly pleased, but I accept this as a fair exchange for free access to an excellent resource.
But PLEASE do not implement a procedure whereby the watching of a video is attached to the start (or even worse, the middle!) of a lesson or test. That would render your site only intermittently accessible to me , which goes against the basic principle that daily practice is the key to good language learning.
Please note that making the ads "easily skippable" will not in any way resolve this issue, since a video has to successfully load before it can be skipped.
I am sure that many of your users worldwide live in regions with poorer Internet connections than those that tend to be standard in the US. Please also note that poor Internet connections tends also to correlate to remote locations (as cities are better able to invest in cables and infrastructure). This issues therefore hurt most those users who have least access to alternative sources of study courses.
I understand the need to monetise the system, but I would strongly urge you not to implement this in a manner that deprives significant numbers of users (and potential users) of the means to access it.
You state that your mission is to make your product "free and accessible to as many users as possible": if it is no longer possible to access the site, then you are no longer doing this, even if you are levying no charges.
Hmmm, unlimited access to learning 50+ languages in exchange for the occasional ad? I think it's worth it.
Not to take away from the actual point you are making, but (as the old saying goes), comment is free but facts are sacred:
One can currently learn 24 languages on Duolingo. English (from many languages), 21 languages from English and some of those also from other languages, and Catalan and Guaraní only from Spanish.
Sounds great! As long as duolingo remains a great platform for learning new languages, any update is fine with me! As an expression of my gratitude, you will be receiving 885 lingots on this post!!
^ This. I'm sure some users will complain but whatever keeps this boat floating is fine with me.
Agreed but since schools are using it I think they should get a no ad option
Agreed. I don't mind the ads myself, but I have the option to stop using Duolingo if I don't like the ads. The students using Duolingo for schools don't have that option, because their teachers are requiring them to use it.
Unfortunately for me, Duolingo with ads probably = no Duolingo at all. My Internet connection is frequently weak enough to timeout on any pages that contain video. Not all Duolingo users live in cities...
It's hard in this world to keep something good AND free at the same time. But you are doing it guys !! So keep it going!! Kudos! (Spoiler for the CEO: 1) how do you remove a language from your Duolingo? It seems impossible! 2) I am Italian and failed all the gateway questions in the Italian course... It says something, right ?.. Even if I want to check if the answers have been corrected, at today there is no way to attempt again. Not even paying with lingots.. Something I believe you should ask architects to fix IMHO)
First you need to click the arrow next to your profile picture in the top bar at the left side. Then, you click 'settings' and from there click 'learning languages'. From there, you click where it says 'Reset or Remove Languages' in grey at the bottom of the tab. You should see all the courses you have and have an option to reset/remove them! Hope this helps!
If it's your only language course (or the only one in a particular home/"native" language--even if you're studying, say, "French for English speakers," "French for Spanish speakers," and "French for Italian speakers," those would all count as your "only" language in that case), it may not let you delete it. It doesn't let me, anyway. It lets me reset it to the beginning, but not completely delete it.
Go to settings, click learning languages, and then at the bottom there should be an option to delete.
Would it be possible to give Duolingo's users a choice, in the form of a voluntary fee to make the adverts go away? Every time adverts are mentioned in the forums, several people request such an option.
I've put quite a lot of effort into avoiding adverts, and I'd like to continue to do so, without becoming a freeloader :)
Same. I've gotten so much from this place. I would not object to giving something back.
When I use Duolingo at the moment I'm amazed that I can get such a quality education for nothing. If ads become a big thing, I can't fault them for it, however the ad free option for a subscription would be very appealing to me. Firstly, I'd get to not have to see ads, and secondly, I'd be directly helping to fund Duolingo, and that would make me feel I'm at least giving something back for the service.
My thoughts exactly. I can afford to pay and I prefer to not see ads. If it were possible to pay a fee to opt out of ads, Duolingo would still be free for anyone who can't pay. The ads will just be wasted on me anyway -- I never buy anything I see advertised on a web site because it would just add to the endless mindless corporate database, and it will drive me away. I would like to pay for using Duolingo, however, because it's awesome!
I haven't seen any ads yet, so I can only assume that they are easily caught by AdBlock.. which is a pretty simple solution if you don't like ads.
Being able to pay for an ad-free version would also support the developers more directly
This kinda contradicts Duolingo's point. They don't simply want users with more money to be able to get a better service than those who don't have as much.
Saying that, so does this iOS streak thing. However, I don't really believe a streak affects anything too much. Anyone who's that bothered about a streak will keep it.
I think as far as freemium options go - if this becomes inevitable, I'd much rather it be "subscribe for ad-free Duolingo" than "subscribe for more vocabulary/extra services", or microtransactions for more vocabulary/extra services.
That said, apparently Microsoft makes significantly more money from an Outlook Mail user with ads enabled (and not blocked) than they do from an Outlook Mail user who pays US$19.95 a year to use Outlook Mail without ads. And I'd imagine that Duo would be charging even less, so maybe adding a subscription to remove ads would be undesirable either way.
It is a fact of life that some people have more money than others, and that will always be true. Opting out of ads is not really "better service." If people are willing to pay for the same service but avoid spam (which is what unsolicited advertising is), how does that harm people who don't pay but still get to use Duolingo? The ads are going to happen no matter what.
I am very likely to stop using Duolingo when I start seeing ads anyway, so if the paid opt-out doesn't happen there will be one fewer set of eyeballs for advertisers to count.
Seconding! It seems that the main (grossly generalized) ways for a creator to make money at the present from a service such as this are to:
1) Sell the application to a person. I pay with my money. 2) Sell a person's eyes and mind to an advertiser. I pay with my brain and with mental effort.
Neither of these are completely free. It sounds like these ideas have definitely been considered before, and I just want to speak up in support of option 1 as well!
It will be nice if the ads are in the target language. My eyes have been trained to skip ads, most of the time I don't even know what they are selling I just look for the x. If the adds are in my target language I think I would read them then.
Warum lernst du so viele Sprachen? That's pretty crazy, I'm jealous, to be honest. Чи використовуєш ти свої знання професійно?
I do use 4 of them professionally, yes. I'm an ESL teacher and a Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian to English translator. I'd like to get into Catalan translation as well at some point if I can progress far enough with that. Und ich lerne Sprachen weil es ist interessant. Ich liebe die Unterschiede und Ähnlichkeiten zwischen den Sprachen siehen.
Some small corrections: Ich lerne Sprachen, weil es interessant ist (weil ich es interessant finde). Ich liebe es, die Unterschiede und Gemeinsamkeiten zwischen verschiedenen Sprachen zu untersuchen.
Keep on like that iwc!
I created an Excel sheet to compare vocabulary of several lenguages. You not only learn words but discover the past of our cultures.
That is excellent that you get to bring your professional expertise in language learning to Duolingo!
Tip: I think "Und ich lerne Sprachen, weil es interessant ist. Ich liebe, die Unterschiede und die Ähnlichkeiten zwischen den Sprachen zu siehen." is closer to what you meant to say in your comment. (Dependent clauses take different word orders in German than independent clauses.)
Many thanks! My German is rubbish. It's the first language I started studying on here, but I've been the most sporadic about studying it for various reasons. I haven't even finished the tree yet due in large part to traveling for 5 months last year, taking a break from the tree and only focusing on Norwegian during that period and then returning from travel to find a tree that had doubled in length. Plus, Catalan and Polish came out around that time, so I decided to leave German until last month.
@iwc2ufan I am really curious to how many hours you spend on DuoLingo on a daily basis! Do you think you command a language well enough when you get to level 25 by solely practicing on DuoLingo?
Wow! You must have a lot of time on your hands to learn that much. That's awesome!
I see your point. But look at it from the point of the advertiser:
They wouldn't want to go through the hassle and expense of having the ad translated so that (mostly basic) learners can read it in their target language (and possibly misunderstand it, being learners). On the other hand, advertisers in Italy or Mexico (looking at your flags, for example), might not be targeting whatever they are selling to you.
So the only ones left are multinational advertisers, who already have the material and the strategy for advertising in multiple languages.
I believe the advertiser would like us to read the ads. When I get the ads in English all I see is the big green Continue button that allows me to skip it.
If it was actually in the language I would actually read the ad.
From the advertiser perspective the current system is a fail.
I keep getting audible ads. If they audible were serious about selling their product to me they would have advertised Swedish language books at the time.
From the advertiser perspective the current system is a fail.
The success of an ad campaign isn't usually measured by how well one particular person in the target audience feels it works on them...
You are assuming my perspective is unique here. Most people block out ads if there is nothing to grab there attention. I merely gave one example.
I'm not assuming anything -- I'm just telling you opinions are not what matters, measurable results are. I'm sure you're aware that ads can also work when we don't even realize we've seen them. Also, I tried to explain above that advertising or even just selling Swedish books (or whatever) to a foreign audience is not a cheap and easy thing to do.
So, again, from an advertiser's point of view: Why pick Duolingo as an advertising platform, rather than some easier one that doesn't require making it all multilingual? (Edit: Assuming Duolingo would go for ads in the target language.) How many Swedish language bookstores do you really think are out there that want to get into not just the advertising but the whole global shipping, contracts, etc.?
I'm not trying to undermine Duolingo as an advertising platform in general here, just point out some of the realities of international, multilingual business.
@Larkspire: Yes, I already mentioned at the end of my first post here that there would still be some companies who would be interested in advertising if ads were in the target languages.
But it's not about "which ads could Duolingo use" -- advertising doesn't work that way. Advertising starts from the needs and wants of the companies doing the advertising. Duolingo doesn't just get to "choose" what they use. Every time advertising comes up here, users here write that they would like ads in their target languages and that Duolingo could do this or that.
Ads are paid for by the companies advertising, and it has to be desirable to them. If Duolingo were to require ads to be in the target language (such as Irish and Esperanto...and I'm not even mentioning the K-word), it would greatly reduce the attractiveness of Duolingo as an advertising platform. Fewer interested advertisers = lower prices for the ad spaces = less of a point in doing the whole thing.
@annika_a: If audible only produced English-language audiobooks you might have a point, but they produce audiobooks in many languages. Presumably they also advertise in at least a handful of these languages. While there are a good many people on Duo who are only here to be good at Duo, or to play around with languages they're not committed to, it seems a fair assumption that, e.g. a Swedish learner might be interested in a Swedish audiobook.
I know that they have German-language editions of The Silmarillion, and Sapkowski's Witcher books, and seeing one of those would make me actually interact with the ad and check out the product. Otherwise I'd ignore it.
If there's a large enough contingent of us who would interact with ads in our target language but otherwise ignore them, surely this could be measured (perhaps in one of Duo's famous a/b tests, if possible)?
Another option is to use Google ads, which are tailored to the individual who sees them but which nonetheless seem to be adjustable to a certain language. Visiting dict.cc gives me German-language Uber ads which redirect me to the New Zealand website for Uber when I interact with them, for example. (Google ads otherwise seem to ignore that I understand some German - I only see English-language ads on English websites, etc.)
@annika_a I actually wasn't talking about "which ads Duolingo could use" - though if I was, Google and Doubleclick aren't exactly discriminating, and enough websites seem to rely on them exclusively - but making the point that there would still be interested advertisers even if Duo wanted some ads on the site to be in languages other than English (granted, I don't know if tailoring ads to each language is even possible, e.g. code-wise). I don't deny that this would lower the number of interested advertisers, but I don't buy the idea that it would therefore be a pointless exercise - at least as far as "mainstream" languages go. Additionally, using an intermediary like G!Ads or Doubleclick removes the need to track down interested advertisers. Your point about Irish and Esperanto is fair, though.
I think you are looking at this from the wrong angle. From Duolingo's point of view, if they are going to take the route of making money from advertising, then it makes sense to acccept adverts the company wants to place. The point that ads in a learner's target language would likely be more effective is one that should be directed at the advertiser, not Duolingo (who may well already be saying that to them.)
But if a majority of users are just unconsciously clicking out, it's a FAIL.
Again, there's plenty of evidence of ads having an effect on people even when they aren't at all aware of it.
(Most people think they're too clever for this to work on them, just like most people think they are better than average drivers, etc.)
But look at it from the point of the advertiser:
Now that Duolingo has ads, they have a lot of incentive to do just that. As an end-user, I don't want Duolingo to optimize for advertisers - I want design choices optimized for helping me learn a foreign language.
I approve of "pay to revive your streak" because the incentives aren't harmful.
I think the incentives are perverse when it comes to ads, or relying on investors to keep the site afloat while charging nothing to the public.
In general, I'm in favour of Duo charging end-users directly, even if it's only for certain items - like merchandise, special features, maybe even consulting (although that can go really bad for some businesses).
Ideally the core features would be free for everyone, whereas paid features would be "just for fun" things.
Oh, I'm not particularly in favor of ads. I'm just trying to explain how naive it is to think that "Duolingo could have these or those kinds or ads". It just doesn't work that way, now that they've decided to go down this route.
I can see your point of charging for fun things and keeping the important core content free -- but we've both been here a long time to learn languages, so that's what such a move would look like to us. To someone from the outside, or to a parent of a child who uses Duolingo for Schools, it might look like they did all this stuff to get more kids involved, and then started selling stuff that appeals directly to them...
Also, I believe Duolingo has to thread carefully in their relationship with all their volunteers, who have put their time and effort into supporting a free product, albeit one provided by a for-profit company.
The situation with volunteers hadn't even occurred to me. If I volunteered hours of my time to contribute to a course, I might resent the ads.
@Sitesurf: maybe some moderators would be willing to translate ads into target language, as Duolingo would like, in return for a fair share of the revenue? Just a thought...
Perhaps the advertisers could put their content into the Immersion section, and use Duolingo's already functional crowd-sourced translation capability to create targeted content. I would also much prefer to see things in the language I am learning at the moment, even if the content is defined by either my location, or my native language.
Unfortunately, the development of the Immersion feature has been stopped long ago and, consequently, most of the courses on Duolingo (and any new one) don't have the feature. So, given that Duo decided to not develop Immersion anymore, using Immersion doesn't look like a scalable (to all courses/languages) option.
Why did they stop Immersion? It seems like people liked it and it was a way for Duo to make money without ads.
Sayree, it had something to do with them not compensating the people who were doing the translations. There was a law they couldn't work around.
I'm sure none of them would ever deliver ads in our target language but if they did at least it would be helpful to us. Maybe they will do bilingual ads. Like I say, I usually just look over ads now without even noticing what they are about.
I haven't seen an ad on duolingo yet so I don't know what they are.
The three companies I've gotten are all global so they already have ads in different languages. It won't take any effort on their part to givd the ads in multiple languages.
On duos end it takes programming the app so it chooses the correct ad. Which they will eventually have to do to match base languages anyway.
You are right, I don't know what happened to my head when I wrote that. Somehow I must've been thinking that duolingo only had English speaking users and that all advertisers were in New York and LA.
I just live in a small world sometimes.
No, desafortunadamente. Hindi fue publicado erróneamente por dos jornadas y enseguida cerrado
If I were (paying for) advertising, I really wouldn't want my material to be handled that way.
The risk of embarrassment due to incompetence or outright vandalism is way too high.
I love duolingo and would much rather pay a fee than have to see advertising. I understand the need, and the desire to keep the program free of charge, but if enough others feel as I do, maybe you won't need to resort to advertising. Keep the feel optional at first, and run ads only if absolutely necessary. Keep up the great work. This is an extraordinary program.
A lot of apps have a "pay to remove advertisements" option, so the team could implement that if ads are bothersome to enough people.
The ads are already running but as long as they are ok for a 6 year old to see then there are no problems
I second that. I don't like the idea to pay a recurrent fee, but I like the idea to of adding an option to disable ads permanently using an in-app purchase on iOS. I would be glad to pay a support fee to Duolingo, so you could also think about making possible to donate money to you.
I wouldn't mind paying a small, periodic fee to get rid of aps, like there is for other aps (of which I'm using one alongside DuoLingo ;-) ).
Same here, I'd like to pay for duo as they do great job. I'm also ok to see ads even after payment so please make option to make donations / subscription for donates
Great idea, that would actually be interesting, I would definitely read the ads to try to figure out what they are, if they were in the language that I am learning.
That is such a great idea! I would definitely read the ads if they were in my target language or if I could toggle between languages
I agree with you, it would also help me quite a bit since i'm only in beginning french. ☺☻☺
Great idea! Like you, I skip ads asap. If there was an educational component to them, I would stop and look, read, learn, and just maybe . . .
I'd strongly prefer the whole project to remain ad-free but I'm going to pitch a couple of alternatives rather than complain.
I've seen some discussion about a donate button over the years. Is that still being considered?
Another option is to provide a subscription option. I'm not suggesting the creation of "Duolingo Premium," which would divide users into haves and have-nots, but rather cosmestic or analytical benefits. i.e. $10/yr gets you a funky hat for Duo and more detailed stats. Maybe it even gives you the option to opt-in for testing new features.
I'm thankful for what you've done here and I appreciate my status as a guest, but I'd much rather shove a couple of dollars into your wallet than have you show ads. :)
Maybe it even gives you the option to opt-in for testing new features.
If people actually enjoyed the a/b tests this would work, but most seem to complain. Maybe an opt-out option instead? :P
Updates like this are what a lot of other sites lack, and part of what makes this one great :P
I'll repeat some suggestions that can both provide (some) funds ánd improve Duolingo.
In general the idea is to provide extra content (without changing current content) for a relatively small cost.
Paid preparation courses for professional language tests such as CEFR (seperate or parallel to the current courses). On top of this you could cooperate with businesses offering these tests, who could pay to advertise on Duolingo.
Paid expansion units. These could range from local food names course, cultural course and idioms course to more professional oriented economic, medical, scientific courses. There would be something of interest for everybody and it would enable people to use Duolingo to learn more than just the basics (people now look for other things if they want to further improve after finishing their tree). It would be wise to seperate these from the main course to some extent so completing a tree doesn't become less of an achievement. It could even be rebranded under something like "advanced courses" to clearly seperate it from the main course.
These could be made payable with lingots too (including a way to buy lingots obviously). This would have the extra advantage of people being able to unlock some extra content for free if they work hard enough for it.
- Community paid conversations option, where you can hire a teacher or native speaker to talk, chat with or to let them correct a translation you made and give advice. People would be able to earn lingots by teaching / helping others and would be able to use those lingots to unlock extra content or hire somebody for the language they are learning. So these people would be both students and teachers.
Regarding (monetarily) paid expansion units:
Duolingo started because people in poverty did not have a foot in the race for jobs. Those with money, bought access to language skills that would help them to have, well, even more money. People who did not have the money, could not compete. This suggestion is re-instituting the problem Duolingo was created to solve. People with money get ahead. People without the money fall behind. Free language education for the world is the goal for a reason.
Yes. I wouldn't be opposed to "pay to not see any ads," or even "pay to get cosmetic changes to Duolingo" (like the outfits for your owl in the app), but I'm very much opposed to anything that would mean that people who can put money into Duolingo would be able to get additional content (or at least, would find it much easier to access the additional content, even if you could slowly accumulate the lingots to unlock the content without paying).
No offense but the owl outfits aren't something that is going to bring any noticeable amount of money.
And if you read my replies to both Usagiboy and rolosrevenge, you'll notice that it wouldn't at all be "slow" without paying. I also wouldn't call it "quick", but at a moderate speed. These expansions target people who've finished their tree: just completing a tree would already have given you enough lingots to as bare minimum (likely more) already unlock 6 expansions. Completing these expansions would then again have given some more lingots to unlock even more expansions.
P.S. cosmetic things could even have the opposity of the desired effect.. Poor people also want to fit in, they also want things like iPhones and you'll even have some of them who'll buy an iPhone instead of using the money to pay for their rent or go in debt to buy it. So cosmestic things often aren't a good idea if your goal is to make the able pay and offer free service to the poor. The poor will want to fit in like everybody else and waste their precious money on cosmetics too. And this absolutely isn't the exception to the rule, it's an extremely widespread thing. Also in CSGO you'll sometimes see people who stuggle a lot with money IRL who spent the last penies they've got on cosmetics (skins) just to try fit and / or put up a facade to the outside world pretending they're not poor at all but have money to spend.
Anything that allows you to progress faster by throwing money at Duolingo is contrary to Duolingo's stated mission.
Yet the introduction of ads is a method of targeting the poorest. If you live in a rural area, or a country with a less developed infrastructure, you are being forced to (at best) buy a more expensive connection service or (at worse) denied access completely, if the higher bandwidth required to carry video causes pages to timeout altogether.
Unlimited data plans and high speed data connections may be the norm for city dwellers in the developed world. They are not a universal norm.
Paid expansion units do go against the basic principle. But I think that they are a lesser evil than introducing hidden costs (and possibly insurmountable bars) to the basic material, through mandatory ad viewing.
The problem with making things payable with lingots is that some people have thousands upon thousands of lingots. I've got 6600+ at the moment.
That would be a part of the idea: people with a lot of commitment would be able to earn a big part for free.
Let's say it would cost 50 lingots for each advanced theme and buying lingots would cost 1 dollar for 50 lingots. That would mean you'd get for 132 dollars worth of expansions for your 3+ year streak. That makes about 40 dollar a year.
If there would be 20 advanced themes that would mean you'd be able to unlock all expansion for 6 trees. That would also mean 20 dollar worth of extra content / tree.
I myself am at 150 streak (180 total days) with 1000 lingots. So I'd be at 20 dollar for my half year. Which would allow me to unlock all expansions for 1 tree only. I've started 10 trees (including multiple reverse ones). So I'd conclude that such a system would be very, very balanced. There would still be a fair amount of people buying lingots. Certainly when there's even more options to spend lingots on than just expansion themes. People without money to spend would still be able to unlock extra content at an encouraging rate.
It would also allow people to pay for other people's studies: if somebody is very helpful on the forum he can earn free lingots from other people. There would likely be a few "big shots" who want to sponsor Duo quite a bit / have too much money to spend so they distribute lingots to helpful people.
Sadly, elvper, there are ways to cheat the system right now in Duolingo that can get you lots of lingots but don't demonstrate any dedication to language learning whatsoever. Duolingo does not have to indulge in policing this right now because the lingots have very little value, but the system would have to be overhauled and maintained if lingots became important, which would be an added expense.
Since Duolingo is looking to raise more money instead of spend more money, I do not think that this approach is one that they'll consider at this time.
Sure, I guess, why not. They've got to do something with these lingots. Back when we had hearts and potions to buy, there was a use for them, now not so much.
I strongly support the idea of making donations, whether or not advertising comes to Duolingo. I would only ask that advertising is sensible and decent, and without sound or movement. Also, that it does not pop up during timed practice.!! Duo could also charge for language certificates for other languages, as it does for English. Duolingo is still progressing in terms of what it has to offer to language learners, but it is already a very precious resource. Seeing what happened to Livemocha, and the steadily declining standards of some other sites we have to protect Duo for future learners. If there was a simple way of donating, it would be used. By not providing this option Duo is shooting itself in the foot, considering the popularity of crowd-sourced projects these days, and the number of users on the site.
Seeing what happened to Livemocha, and the steadily declining standards of some other sites we have to protect Duo for future learners.
I don't know what the position is on making donations when Duolingo is set up as a business, rather than a charity; it might not be possible, I'm not sure.
3.) Sell cosmetic features that are not essential for learning a language 1.) Make donations possible
I've been having ads at the end of my practice in Swedish ( My target language ) with subtitles. I think it's great as it's another learning opportunity and testing my skills... although it was the same ad.
I have also seen them. Great in principle, but the quality is shockingly poor, so I can't read the subtitles, and therefore it's even more important that they should have a repeat button, which I think they currently lack.
this is really great, unfortunately i have no seen any of these ads yet. I only study Italian though.
I agree, but don't hold your breath. I love listening to Wolfgang Ambros, an Austrian singer, on YouTube, DW for news in German, etc. all ads are in English. I believe it is because the user's location controls the advertising...English for US users.
I am so very grateful for this wonderful French language opportunity that a few ads won't offend me.
How about: "sponsored content" - let advertisers write articles about their product/experience, in whatever language they want. Let the community translate it to whatever languages they want, and when a particular translation is complete, re-release it to be translated to whatever language-pairs are left.
I know Immersion is more or less abandoned, but it's a good thing, and it already exists. Why not take advantage?
Or: ramp up the Gear store. I had completely forgotten it was even there until I started writing this. Bring the link up to the topnav menu, and make more stuff! Coffee mugs, hats, pens, cellphone cases, anything people buy that you can put a logo on. Posters, printed content? Study guides, tutorials, even if they are just compilations of discussions posted here (with author permission - it would probably be a great honor to have your posts sold by Duolingo).
That said, I am fine with the ads. They are unobstrusive and easily skipped.
Companies, with good reason, are likely to want to retain a fair bit of control over their ads.
They are probably not going to allow them to be translated into other languages by translators of highly variable quality and no particular commitment or obligation to the company or its products. Especially when you also factor in that the amateur translators would also often have very limited knowledge of the cultural contexts for which they are translating.
It is normal to translate into your native language, not from it; so hopefully you will have adequate understanding of your own culture!
This is normal for professional translators, yes. But there is no way of controlling that regarding the translation community here... Anyone who's tried Immersion here knows that the end result can be quite variable.
I'm very disappointed. Your original plug was that Duolingo was to be free and Ad free. What happened to your original goal of translating the web?
I'm obviously not staff, but off the top of my head, EU labour laws, and the fact that copyright law is not identical across every country happened.
They ran into a big problem with EU labor laws, I remember, so many users weren't able to participate in immersion. They also ran into a lot of problems with copyright laws--things that were in public domain by one set of laws were still under copyright elsewhere.
In addition to what Larkspire and MaggiePye have said, I suspect there's also a need to factor in that some people use and abuse immersion for XP and have little to no interest in producing quality translations. Given that the people who abuse the system also often end up with high translation tiers, they can thoroughly mess up an article in no time and get loads of XP for doing so.
I suspect the copyright and labour laws were the main issue, but I don't think this ^ helps at all.
No, I agree, that was a problem too. That could have been fixed, but when a large portion of your user base are not legally allowed to do the activity, there's little incentive to work on improving/fixing it.
How will uncontrolled ads affect the thousands of children who now use Duolingo at schools? Or is the content restricted?
You add ads, but you put them in some clever way. And not some annoying FORBES meme?
No pop outs, and similar annoying adds, that make me hurt myself.
Simply because Duolingo has to store more data and do more processing for each user. For the vast majority of Wikipedia users, each page loaded involves only serving a cached page. Even when the cache needs to be refreshed, that's only going to require a database lookup.
For each Duolingo user, there are database reads and writes to be done for almost every use of the site or app. That means that there are more costs to be covered per user, and voluntary funding drives are going to be more demanding.
You are right, I underestimated the maintaining cost of Duolingo which seems to be about 50 000 Dollars per day. Nevertheless: I would enjoy an option to contribute directly to Duolingo. An option (which probably would suffice from a legal perspective) could be to get a simple badge as a reward with no change in the learning experience whatsoever for paying a certain sum of money.
Duolingo is being run as a corporation, not a non-profit. That makes a real difference in people's willingness to contribute. I'm not sure, but it might also make a difference in what Duolingo can legally do.
Please keep duolingo alive. I think it is so important what you are doing. Whoever created the App was so smart. I love how it challenges me, reminds me to study, and reverses a question when I got it wrong. I am learning Spanish so I can reach out to international clients.
Luis, I would like to talk to you about this App as one of my clients is in the Special Education space. I see this as a very valuable tool for the students. How do I contact you? monica
Duolingo being free is such a blessing, especially for some of us who are cash strapped. I think having advertisements is a good way of keeping Duolingo afloat in the monetary side and I don't mind it at all. But I think what would be better is to have the advertisements as part of the learning process. As an example, if I were an English speaker and is learning the German language, perhaps the advertisements that appear could be in German or German with English translation or something along that line.
Perfectly happy with ads myself - I understand and accept the trade-off of free content in exchange for being shown ads. The only thing I'd ask is that, as you say in your post, they're NOT intrusive; and they're not deceptive. I have no problem with advertising but anything that tries to trick me into clicking it, in any way at all, I consider deceit, and I don't take well to it.
As long as you can avoid the above, then you'll have no complaints from me. I understand a project like this has costs and if advertising keeps it free for us - because I've just discovered Duolingo and frankly I think it's an awesome resource - then I'm good with it.
3 key points:
1. Ads and "free access to tools..." are not truly compatible. Ads are a way that users "pay" for getting something "free." And if the ads are truly unobtrusive, why would they be worth paying for by your advertising clients? At the very least, you need to offer an "ad-free" option at a cost. A better solution would be to become a non-profit and get some support educational funding to pay staff salaries (and stop dreaming of making millions of dollars).
2. There are serious limitations to Duolingo that need to be addressed if you want to be a "go-to" learning tool : The voice option rejects speaking above a very slow pace and ignores many errors as long as one speaks slowly and distinctly. This isn't how normal people speak a language.
3. While the encouragement system works great at beginning levels, it's nearly impossible to advance once one completes all the lessons. There need to be more advanced lessons rather than simple variations on the basic ones. Many people I've talked to stop using the app once they complete the tree.
4. There is too much repetive clicking and typing. This is related to the problem mentioned in #2. In my case, this led to a serious case of tendonitis that I'm still dealing with a couple months after stopping using Duolingo. This was definitely exacerbated by the fact that I use a Mac, where the clicking requires a fair degree of pressure (I have since switched settings to "tap to click" in System Peferences -- something I would definitely advise Mac users of Duolingo to do.). I cannot imagine completing multiple lessons on a phone!
So I love what Duolingo does and can see you've put a huge amount of work into the basic product, but believe there is some serious re-thinking needed if you want it to garner a wider audience and have a means of your team getting a decent economic return on all the work they've put in.
Once you complete all the lessons, besides regilding the tree for revision, it's likely time to move on to other learning resources. At the moment, Duolingo can't help you practise conversation or free-writing, and there comes a point at which it's outlived most of its usefulness in a given language for a given student. More advanced lessons won't change that. Basically, I think point 3 is expecting Duolingo to become something it currently isn't, and which it may not ever become. It's an excellent go to learning tool for the basics, but it isn't a complete language learning system, because of its inherent limitations.
If a person goes through the whole tree and masters the content, while more lessons in this format might be nice, what that person really then needs is to go and use the language outside Duolingo.
(Regarding 4) I've completed multiple trees on my iPad, both on the website and from within the app, typing mostly with my thumbs. Typing in a language is a fairly important way to learn it/to demonstrate what you've learned. Without meaning to be unsympathetic (because tendonitis is horrible), I don't think it's a good idea to suggest Duolingo do away with that (and with the inherent productive skills) because one person had a problem with it. Thousands of people every day manage to use the app/the mobile website without causing themselves health issues.)
I use a bluetooth keyboard sometimes on my Android phone, iPad or Chromebox. Most often thumbing on phone, sometimes using other fingers.
In some places, people meet to practice what they learned. People familiar with other languages, and providing their experience as a helpful challenge to others.
Luis, I understand now why there are Amazon related ads: to fund free access to Duolingo courses. At first, it was breaking my joy of finishing a session....
Someone suggested that ads appear in language being studied. (And link to Amazon, etc., in language they can actually use!!).
But please no video ads...
What Duolingo could add that I'd probably pay for: Glossika-style audio for downloading. Maybe even team up with Glossika to make the programs, but that's probably unnecessary, since they already have everything digitized. This would involve using the audio from both source and target languages, with an SRS program being used to generate a series of files that would progress through the tree by automatically adding review sentences from earlier lessons.. I'm doing something similar for my Japanese lessons (Assimil), without the SRS component, using Audactiy and a TTS voice for the English, so it can't be all that difficult. But it does take time, and I'd be willing to pay somebody else to do it, including Duolingo for their languages, especially if I could strengthn a 2nd language by using it as the source language.
Hi Luis, just wanted to say thank you to you and your team, I'm so grateful for this site!
Hello Luis, Is it possible to have an official statement from Duolingo regarding the future of the Immersion feature? Thanks for starting Duolingo! Daniel I.
I'm glad that you are keeping Duolingo free and I am fine with the fact that you have to use ads to keep it free. I think I speak for a lot of people when I say that I probably wouldn't use Duolingo if i had to pay for it.
If you are going to monetize Duoligo I think the best way would be to present rotating Ads on the login page for xx amount of time... this way everyone logging on would be required to view at least one Ad and learning is not interrupted or distracted by blink ads. Also a voluntary donation button is a viable idea
Another idea is to have the Lingots be redeemable for promotions or discounts from for-profit companies. Businesses could pay Duo to have their products available in the Lingot Store. Obviously they're not going to offer big ticket items, but if I could redeem 100 Lingots for a Taco Bell bean burrito I'd be all in. This would give companies exposure to Duolingo users and would give users more incentive to practice and earn a virtual currency that is now close to worthless.
I'd be happy to pay something from time to time. would it be possible to set up a link to donate via Paypal? And just leave it to individuals to pay what and as they feel able.
I don’t know if anyone at Duolingo will read this, but I just wanted to say that I love Duolingo! I love that it is Free. I actually like the way ads are presented on the app. They don’t pop up in the middle of lessons. Users have a choice to watch them or not. If users choose to watch ads, they get a reward for doing so. I always choose to see the ads. I have downloaded many apps that were advertised. In fact, I love the ads because I get to see things that I am unaware of. So long as the user gets to choose whether or not he wants to see the ad AND gets rewarded with gems for watching, I would like to see more ad options (so long as they are between lessons, have the option to view or not to view, and give the user rewards). With more ad options presented in this way, Duolingo could generate more revenue while keeping the program free to users. Just my two cents.
it will be nice if the ads are in the target language. My eyes have been trained to skip ads, most of the time I don't even know what they are selling I just look for the x. Ì the adds are in my target language I think I would read them then.
Thanks for you App. I really like it and will do my best to click through on the adds
It´s sound great. It is very difficult to provide an excellent free service like Duolingo, and on the other hand get money.
Luis, Is the advertising program open to language learning products that build vocabulary and visual familiarity in specialized knowledge domains. Lets say an exploded 3D model of every part in a car that would help a English speaking mechanic become a Spanish speaking mechanic. Perhaps models like these could be developed in cooperation with DL and become plugins to the DL platform?
Not sure why you got down voted, but I'd much rather see ads in the language that I'm learning - they then become one more way for me to get exposure to the language, rather than a distraction from learning. I think it's a good idea.
I'd be willing to pay a subscription if you would just roll out Immersion to all languages!
I appreciate the hard work of your team in making education freely accessible to all. I wouldn't mid ads for such a noble cause. If there is also a window to donate for the cause I am happy to make one. Keep up the good work.
Its fine but I was hit with a lot of ads last night then I updated and it was better
I would happily pay a subscription, not just to not have to deal with ads (which I despise!) but because I am REALLY enjoying DuoLingo and feel there's far far too much here for it to be a free program/app. However, how much I would be willing to pay would have a caveat.
I'm only taking Russian and I must say, in many instances the audio is simply terrible - garbled, cut-off, etc. I "report" the bad audio whenever I encounter it but in using the program for several months I can tell nothing has been corrected.
Many drills I'm only able to complete because I've learned what the bad audio is saying. I'm able to overlook the bad audio basically because of the immense volume of content as well as the superb methods of interactivity in the drills.
IF the audio could be improved I would be willing to pay upwards of $10/month subscription - again, not just to avoid ads but because I believe what they have here has real value.
|---- I don't completely oppose the ads, I just hope there is some sort of system added where users can decide to donate and get rid of ads for a set amount of time (i.e. $10 donation could get rid of ads for 1-2 months, $50 could get rid of ads for a year) a set donation of some amount could get us something like no ads for some time, lingots (100 lingots) and badges with perhaps acknowledgement to where everyone knows who has donated
|---- At the same time however, those who can't pay shouldn't be bombarded with ads to where computers start slowing down or to where the ads are obtrusive, making it harder to focus on learning a language. They should be carefully picked, controlled, with perhaps a small optional survey ("Is this ad good?", "yes" "no, why?") Maybe limit the ads to certain things (don't put ads on tests so one can focus)
|---- As someone mentioned, the lingot system could use an "overhaul" so to speak. Perhaps allow watching a 30 second ad for a lingot or two. Also add more stuff to the lingot store. (i.e. for 100 lingots get rid of ads for a week, 2 weeks, or whatever is suitable) add more and better "power ups" (streaks, lingot multipliers, even small stuff like changing the way duo the character looks for 1-5 lingots) however, try to keep the system free, only with ads, no "microtransactions" (paying for lingots)
|---- Above all, keep duolingo free and accessible, not full of ads, hard to learn with ads, etc. Ads are okay as long as they're executed correctly, I hope most of us will accept them with little to no backlash since in the end, not everything can be free
Several things: People can't povide services without someone paying the bills. ADs can do that but keep it to a maxium required view of 10 to 15 seconds none of the youtube mess of 1 to 2 minutes. Next keep the content appropiate for 6 year olds. I think these 2 things will keep Duolingo as a top app
WIth some advertising it can be free.. .. and when you make to much money ;) with advertising.. everybody that finish a language becomes 5 Euros... make it totally offline ;) and change the world even a bit more!
I reckon it's fair, you can't get a good service without a contribution whatsoever...
If the monetization doesn't work, will we keep our accounts for free or will we have to pay for it?
I would love if Duo had a "Donation" option, as Wikipedia does. If half the people learning donated $10 a month I bet a lot of the expenses would be covered already. Like this, it could be kept free and running while not having a subscription plan or tons of ads :)
Props to you guys though, for making the ads decently targeted as opposed to many other free services which just slap some random ad on! :)
That being said while I do understand the need to make money to keep the site running, some option to buy the app to remove ads would be welcome - as a sort of middle ground :)
If the adds are in my learning language I will always watch them. I'm happy to have ads on there if they help me learn and are varied so not just the same ones any that are in German I'm happy with watching!
Many years ago, I was in Central America and the only ad that stuck on me was "Siempre Coca-Cola". I think this is a good example of an ideal targeted ad for me because I don't mind learning how to say that with other languages, especially the ones I am trying to learn.
Im actually learning, this is amazing education should be free Im love to use this in the class room can we??
I've seen a few ads in Spanish now - oddly, only while learning Polish.
My opinon is i dont mind if there is an ad after i complete a lesson but once it starts spamming and overloading ill quit the app. I think if you can add an upgrade but not a paid app. an upgrade to remove those ads people would appriciate that. i also feel maybe one small ad on the bottom for the website would be okay.
Another option is create a youtube channel. Upload lessons on youtube. Surely youll get tons of subscribers and youtube pays if you have a lot of subscribers you can also add ads in front of your videos to enhance your profit. I think youtube would be great !
I personally LOVE duolingo right now as it is. Its perfect and the best site i have found. I really dont want to see it Spammed up.
"once it starts spamming and overloading ill quit the app"
My experience has been to quit or much reduce my use of web sites as soon as advertising starts.
I hate ads and I'd much rather just pay Duolingo.
If you are worried about keeping it free, you may consider that many people pay per MB. Duolingo already costs me about 100 MB per month. I'm afraid that retrieving ads will push that much higher. Wouldn't my money be better used if I just gave it to you rather than my wireless company?
Ill be pro italian in just one month if I keep doing 250 exp each day, right? I always repeat everything everyday a lot and everyday some new stuff to :D
This is a general comment so please excuse possible inappropriate placement. Just tonight after many weeks of practice I feel that I am indeed learning a skill. I am a senior with limited health and means and Duolingo is making an enormous difference to me. I sincerely appreciate your efforts and those of the community.
You're absolutely right. If we wanted to stay free , we have to get used to watch ads.
Please add an option to disable ads by using in-app purchase. I hate ads in any apps and I don't use such apps. I also don't like recurring payments, so I would be glad to pay once to support Duolingo or pay a donation rather than be forced to pay recurring fees or watch ads. Thanks.
You are giving us a free Education , For me I will anything and everything to support ya
Personally I wouldn't mind ads. Just have a page at the end each lesson with an ad on it; so long as you can skip it by clicking 'continue'.
Kind of like Wikipedia, Wikipedia has been threatening to start hosting ads since forever with their “If everyone reading this donates $3” stuff. By the way, DL is worth more than it is now, I would've paid for it.
Will the ads be in the iOS apps?
I am in favor of your objective to remain free and sustainable. How can I help?
I absolutely love this app even though I started using it just a couple of days back.
Non intrusive ads are a good way of making money but I was wondering whether Duolingo runs any donation campaigns like Wikipedia? It may be somewhere in the discussion forums so please excuse me if I am making a redundant suggestion.
I am glad that the app is free but I wouldn't mind paying a few dollars for the excellent value it provides. I first thought that I could possibly buy lingots and later realized I could not. The app already provides a way of earning the money the hard way and that is excellent. However if I can't buy lingots then it will be great to contribute just a few dollars as a donation via PayPal etc. :) Not for sale just a token of appreciation for the team and community behind Duolingo
My message does not concern the advertising, but rather a surprise fee that Duolingo tried to impose on me.
I'm a huge fan of Duolingo and I've used your iPhone app diligently on a daily basis for more than six months, but now the app has wrongly restarted my streak as a way to retaliate for me not paying $9.99 to "keep education free."
On November 1, I successfully extended my streak to 197 days using the app, but the following morning the app mistakenly told me that I had lost the streak and would only restore it if I paid $9.99. When I declined to pay, the app reset my streak to zero and showed that I hadn't reached the previous day's goal when in fact I did. I have since completed my daily goal five more straight days, thereby extending my true streak to 202 days.
Can you please restore my streak to 202 days?
Thanks so much!
I'm kind of new here, but i know ads can take getting used to, trust me, i watch a lot of ads on youtube. Cya and have a great November!
You should offer a donation option. I would gladly donate some money every now and then to help out the cause. I really appreciate the app the steps you are taking to make it freely available I enjoy supporting services that do just that. If you do decide to implement this please Include Bitcoin as a payment option.
Duolingo should make ads in different languages so people who are learning the language that the ad is in can try and read it.
I appreciate your effort to keep this great service free, but an alternative to remove the adverts for a small fee would be great. Adverts are just so annoying as they are absolutely everywhere! (not talking about the particular app, but in general).
Also, have you considered providing a donation platform? I would definitely love to donate as DL already taught me alot - and even a small donation could bring in more money than dozens of displayed adverts!
I'm sure that people would definitely pay to remove ads. Just please PLEASE make sure that the ads respect the user's privacy. The Wikipedia model would also be pretty nice.
Thank you for providing this wonderful opportunity to learn a language , yes ads are annoying but if its a way of being able to continue this wonderful site to provide people free access to another language then thats fine. I see a comment below about ads in the language you are learning, Not sure how difficult that would be but a good idea, thank you once again
I have not seen any ads in my experience on Duolingo; it may be because that I do duolingo on iOS and Windows 10. Does anyone else have this? I mean I'm glad I don't see ads but...
The second paragraph of the post says:
"Our mission is to bring free education to the world. To support this mission, we recently began rolling out sponsored content and unobtrusive occasional ads. As some of our most active users, you may have already seen a few examples in the Android app."
So you are correct in recognizing that you will not see advertisements in Duolingo in the iOS and Windows 10 editions at this time. However, it may not be long before Duo rolls out the ads on all platforms.
I for one, have zero complaints about ads, especially unobtrusive, occasional ones. I absolutely LOVE Duolingo and find it far more effective than any other language apps I've tried (and I've tried several) and I really appreciate that you've kept it free! And I definitely agree with Lento_Rodriquez that having the ads in the target language would be a fantastic idea.
One thought... I wonder if advertisers would consider offering discounts in exchange for Lingots? Like others, I tend to tune out ads. There are so many online, I honestly can't think of the last one that I clicked.
If an advertiser were to offer... say a 10% discount (with a max limit on the purchase) for 1000 lingots, for example, it might motivate people to use Duo more (to accumulate additional lingots), and to use the ad (click, get the coupon, which would be trackable so that Duo could get credit for successfully referring a customer).
I'm sure there's more to it than that, but maybe worth a thought?
I am fine with the ads, but I would also not have any problem paying for additional content. For example you could have the main language courses all free, but you could also provide additional extended content for purchase if people wanted to. These could be a "deeper dive" into the language in various areas like verb conjugation, idioms, dating (probably very popular), technology, world events, all sorts of things you could do to help get support as well as still provide all the main content for free.
I would still pay for your services! So adds are no big deal for me. Waaaait: Can't I buy some adds and just post "I-Love-duolingo" or greet my wife or tell jokes about language learning or ...
In my opinion, anything that would help Duolingo to last and improve is welcome. It is rather difficult to enter a site without ads on it. And I want to thank Duolingo for that commitment till now. But as said before, we all need to make an effort to keep it running, growing, spreading. Non invasive ads are a good solution. I am for. Thanks, Luis, to ask for our opinion. :)
I recognise the need for Duolingo to maintain Immersion Translations. That is essential to the learning process. Furthermore, I support the idea of making money for the maintenance of Duolingo through advertisements, especially if they are brief, punchy and in the target language being learnt. That way one would probably read them before finding the "X" to remove the ad.
What about crowdsourcing funding, using something like Patreon? Or doing Kickstarters for new courses?
That isn't a bad idea so long as people participated. Before you suggest things like those be sure you would participate.
I mean... even if only a few people do it, it's still better than no one doing it. You can't really lose with Patreon, as far as I know.
Hi, Luis and Duolingo team,
I haven't read the 462 comments so I may be repeating something. What about the possibility of giving users the ability to donate to Duolingo? The financial support of some users could subsidize other users who can't afford or don't have the means (e.g. credit card) to pay. That way, Duolingo wouldn't have to have as many (hopefully any) ads.
Should've read the 462 comments. This was discussed at least in the very beginning and probably 100+ plus throughout this discussion. The short response is that Duo is not a charity, and they do not operate that way.
Duolingo is a great tool and a great service to the world. A good way to finance its operation would be to offer both the free App and a paid App. The need to introduce advertising is understandable; I visit the websites suggested , but either they are not interesting for me or I have already registered with them. Intrusive advertising takes my concentration away, takes me away from learning a language... I study all those languages because it is cool, it is easy, and I love learning. As a translator, I give back, not to Duolingo, but somehow thanks to Duolingo: I do pro bono translations, mainly through Translators Without Borders.
No privaticen la plataforma de aprendizaje, ha sido una experiencia extraordinaria durante éstos años. Los anuncios publicitarios los pueden colocar en las carpetas donde está el contenido de las lecciones, también podría aparecer uno al terminar cada lección y al obtener lingotes.
Agradezco al equipo de trabajo que ha hecho posible que millones de personas al rededor del mundo desafíen las barreras del lenguaje. Entre más idiomas sepamos, más humanos seremos.
Saludos desde CDMX.
Seconding the idea of an option to pay a subscription to remove ads. Quite a few people have enough money that they'd be willing to put down a nominative fee, like $5/month, on Duolingo. Would this be more than you make from ads from the average user?
Have you ever thought of making this a non-profit organization? I'd gladly contribute! ( :
I absolutely love Duolingo, I'm a Web Designer and Developer and if I could help you guys out at all I would! Just give me a shout :P
I think that the contents of ads should be limited, at least. I study American English with Duolingo's iOS app of Japanese version using iPhone. I often see ads of adult or adult-like (sexual) contents in Duolingo and feel very repulsive during the study. The repulsive feeling remains even after the daily end of the Duolingo's study.
I do not like ads, but understand that ads is required for keeping education free at least at this time. Nevertheless, considering your mission to bring free education to the world, particularly for children, I think that such ads inappropriate for children should not be placed on Duolingo. I never want children to see such ads.
Only Japanese version might have such a problem. However, I strongly hope that the contents of ads should be limited only to those that is not repulsive for women and not detrimental to children.
I would propose to make criteria of acceptable ads that match your mission in order o limit the contents of ads, and discose the criteria on the Duolingo's website.
I have started getting the ads on my phone. Yes, they will take some getting used to, though I discovered they are not yet affecting my desktop. One suggestion is that you offer us the option of making a one-time donation. There is no way I am paying a subscription fee, but I would consider making a donation to support the mission.
This has most likely been said but I'm not going through the whole thread to find out where but I for one would be willing to pay a few bucks to not see the ads. The app would still be free and people who don't pay would still get the same benefits. I get what your mission is about free language education. I fully support this. Please let me give you money so I don't have to see the ads! What you make off of each impression can't be much. I bet you could multiply what you make off of my ad views by 5 and it would still be very reasonable for me to pay it. I'm sure I'm not alone in this either. You wouldn't be cutting anyone out of the loop either because everyone else would be paying with their eyes. </EndSoapboxRant>
Personally I think you guys went from 0 to 100 much too fast. You guys went from asking no money at all from the users of the app to having it cost almost as much on a monthly basis as Netflix. I would be happy to support your mission, but I feel the subscription fees as they stand are much too high. I accept the money would be put to good use, but perhaps you might find a greater level of support if the fee was reduced to a more reasonable level. I get a lot more value for money from my Netflix subscription, so I do not see why I should be asked to practically pay the same just to get rid of a few adverts.
I am frustrated as it has a negative effect on learning when you can’t continue playing if you make mistakes. You then ask us to pay or we have to stop and wait for more health. Crazy!!
I think you can still use Duolingo if you make mistakes and run out of health. You just have to do more revision before you can do more new lessons.
I don't know if it's true (or true for everyone with health), but I have heard that you can also watch ads to restore health.
Incidentally, if you have the option of changing platforms, you might do so. No one who uses the website has to deal with health.
Thank you so much! I am disabled and feel so worthless because the pain keeps me from working normal job . I have been learning hebrew to study the Bible and this has made it much easier. I also want to learn other languages like sign language and Aramaic spanish. any my brain will take in. Having this app gives me a sense of such fulfillment. I tell everyone about it. I did send the link to a friend in Africa bit ahe says it charges after 7 days . Is there a way to help her get the free one. I think she's downloaded the wrong app