Feature Request: Grammar Wiki
Right now, most of duo's explanations of grammar, translation best practices, and vocabulary nuances seem to be crowd-sourced in the sentence comments. This leads to four problems:
1) The same topics are discussed in multiple sentence comments (duplication of effort).
2) Some sentences have great explanations which are not seen in other discussions of the same topic (inconsistent delivery).
3) The current non chronological display makes it difficult to follow discussions and know whether a definitive/agreed upon answer has been established.
4) The only access to a sentence comment is to wait for the sentence to be presented to you unless someone bookmarked a link. There is no way to browse the discussions. (limited access)
These problem can easily be solved if the community could organize all the language explanations in a central location. I would like to propose a system like MediaWiki with its paired Content and Discussion pages and history functions. The discussion pages serve the same purpose as the current sentence comments, and the content pages clearly show the current best explanations.
In sentence comments, we could post links to the wiki for standard explanations, and use the sentence comments to discuss issues like context and alternative expressions.
To the community: Do you support this idea? Have you thought of an alternative? Would you contribute? Where should the system be hosted? Could/Should we create projects over at Wikibooks?
To Duolingo: Are you willing/able/interested in integrating such a system into Duolingo (i.e. single login/logout)?
They should just add grammar notes to each section, like they do in German. I don't understand why the other languages don't have them.
This is certainly an interesting idea, and I once thought of it myself. The only issue I thought of is that users would have to be willing to contribute. In my experience users tend to be too lazy to do anything of that nature.
Maybe if a couple of users got it started and running, perhaps then it would gain some steam and continue. The second problem is that because it is wiki-based, people may not trust its content, since anyone can change it regardless of whether it is accurate or not. Though, if it were implemented it could be hosted in a place like wikibooks, as you suggest.
That said, I support the idea, it is certainly a very good way to crowd-source explanation of Duolingo's skills. The real problem is finding a way to implement it effectively.
Back when the lessons had discussions, the top rated discussion was usually a description that explained the lesson. E.g. If you made it to past tense, someone would describe how past tense conjugation worked, and everyone would upvote the heck out of it.
Based on the number of comments made in sentence discussion, I think plenty of users would be willing to contribute. I know of a few people off the top of my head that I know go to the sentence tab (nearly) everyday just to answer questions.
I would be willing to help organize something on the Spanish side, although most (if not all) my Spanish knowledge has come from DL, so I would be worried about my non-expert status.
But at the same time, I feel that the resources already exist (at least in Spanish). If people aren't willing to click on user provided links within discussion areas, I'm not sure they would want to go to a separate DuoWikiGrammar page.
I think that if the resource becomes rich enough, they will be forced to go to a separate DuoWikiGrammar page, because those who answer the same questions so many times are probably tired of doing it. So if the resource is made available, it is likely that they will either provide a brief explanation, or simply refer the users to the specific page.
I can only speak for myself, but I don't mind answering the same questions (even over and over again). I think anything that forces someone to use another site, makes DL less useful/user friendly and I am not a fan of that. Additional resources are great, but useful information in Discussion Forums have their place too.
That may be so, but it is an inefficient use of people's time. Sometimes you forget certain things regarding the answer, sometimes users think of a very good way of showing the answer and can't find it, and sometimes the user has asked the question previously and forgotten where, so they create another thread asking it. Someone else may have answered the question very well, but because it is hard to find the answer, you need to create a worse answer.
So even for a user who is interested in knowing something it still requires effort to find a very good explanation of something that was answered.
All this is unnecessary effort that could go into answering unique, new , and follow up questions. Personally, I think that using other resources makes more sense rather than attempt to use Duolingo as a silver bullet to all the language learning needs. Besides, the forums are in a very bad state, full of clutter, and disjointed threads discussing the exact same thing.
Even searching for these threads is a serious problem, and the main reason for this thread.
I like the idea of a grammar resource for those who want to use it, I don't like forcing the idea on those who don't :)
The only issue I thought of is that users would have to be willing to contribute. In my experience users tend to be too lazy to do anything of that nature.
But the entire premise of Duolingo is crowdsourcing. Or do you think people would get particularly lazy when it comes to Wiki features themselves?
Yes, it is crowdsourcing. But the only reason users do it is because they perceive it as fun or a learning experience. Adding stuff to Wikia is probably not fun for most, and they will probably not learn anything particularly new. As an example, at the time of this writing, 37 people have upvoted this thread, yet the wiki we are talking about, only has an average of 6 contributors or so.
Even the founder of that particular wikia page has indicated the lack of time for it. Yet if it was fun and interesting, or if there was some sort of reward, the founder may magically find time.
That was my point.
That is why I favor integrating into DL. If DL hosted the wiki (perhaps with a link in the header next to immersion), then it wouldn't feel like yet another outside resource. DL would also have the opportunity to game-ify the contribution process.
The problem is that a poor gaming process leads to people gaming the system for rewards rather than making meaningful contributions. The question is then: How do we encourage contribution?
The user-initiated Weekly Lingot Giveaways (https://www.duolingo.com/comment/1785981) seem to be effective at getting some participation in user-created content. Maybe we could propose a new page with a link to the wiki. in the forum and give lingots to people who make meaningful contributions (content/editing/moderation).
What ideas do you have to encourage meaningful contributions?
I wouldn't hold my breath for Duolingo either endorsing or hosting the wiki. Something similar to this was probably proposed months or years ago, yet there is no sign of any move by Duolingo to go in this direction, even though at one time or another they may have agreed with the general idea.
Anyway, The trick is also making it directly related to language learning. This would probably work best if wikias are added in more languages. Currently we have only English and Spanish versions of that wikia.
I can think of many ways of helping people and also making it more fun. We can take the approach those competitions are using, and add one more aspect to it. For example:
- Write a story about a Prince and a Princess using at least 5 words from the plural skill (1 lingots), and offer an explanation of the grammar used in the story for (1 extra lingot with references).
- Correct the users' story and explain the grammar with references for (2 lingots).
- Upload the relevant grammar explanation to the right wiki page, with references (5 lingots).
This way the story writers gain something in the way of lingots and writing practice, the editors/teachers gain something in the way of lingots and practice reading if another story in the thread is in the language they are learning. It will also be simple enough to copy paste their explanation to the wiki.
Thanks for pointing this out. I went ahead and created a Category page for the French for English speakers course and wrote a discussion for the first unit.
The navigation needs work. From the home page, I have to scroll to the bottom, click on the word Categories, (which simultaneously acts as a label and a link), then find the course category link among all the other non-course categories.
Maybe if the links to all of the course's category pages were posted directly on the home page, it would encourage browsing (and contributing/editing) to the courses.
Yes, it may be necessary to add WIKI style navigations in WIKIA, the issue is that there probably need to be some templates created for it. For now I believe, we can add a "See also" at the bottom of the page, that contains basic navigation information.
P.S. Here are a couple of navigation templates for wikia:
Finding one that looks good, and is easy to use is a challenge however.