Ask us about Duolingo, Round 2!
UPDATE: Answers to your most voted questions below!
Thank you so much for your comments and questions. This is an ongoing series, so check back for another chance to ask and vote on topics for us to tackle next time!
TOP VOTED QUESTIONS:
QUESTION #2 How will Duolingo improve the forums? [101 Votes]
QUESTION #3 Why is HelpfulDuo's Q & A in this format? [74 Votes]
Surprise, we snuck in a couple from Round 1!
Check out Round 1 of this Q & A series to learn about how we select and build language courses, the Duolingo business model, and more!
154 Comments This discussion is locked.
Trying this one again - Are there any concrete plans for incubated courses to get the same basic site features that in-house courses have? A words list would be nice. Bonus skills. Anything at all beyond "here's a version 1.0 tree with bare bones functionality, now have fun telling every newbie that ever signs up for the course that no, Irish/Danish/Welsh doesn't have a word list, and no, no one knows why."
(and yes, I know we can get to the words list with a userscript. That's exactly what makes the lack of words list so annoying - clearly the functionality exists. So what gives?)
I asked this politely last time... Maybe being less polite about it will keep it from being vote brigaded to the bottom, as it was before.
Annnnnd nope, still brigaded to the bottom. Seriously, more people would rather randomly downvote than find out why none of the incubated courses have full functionality? There are more people taking incubated courses than the in-house courses at this point, and it's obnoxious that we should have to run userscripts just to be able to access things like the words list. I'd just like to know why, if things like that are already coded into the back end and thus clearly available, no one at Duolingo thinks it's worth giving the incubated courses a words tab.
But at least the kiddies are having fun clicking the pretty arrows, I suppose.
It's not more people, it's one or two who use multiple accounts. And that incubated course thing is not even remotely true. Spanish, French and German for English alone have 142 million which by my quick count is more than all incubated courses combined but in case I made some error, all 10 in-house courses have 326 million users combined.
You may be right that the in-house courses have more total users, but I'd be curious what the numbers are if all courses were added up... not just X for English, but all of the English for X (and Spanish for X, etc) courses as well.
And hey, if I'm wrong, mea culpa, wouldn't be the first time. I just had a moment of frustration after the second time in a row of having a perfectly valid question (which gets asked in every incubated course on at least a weekly basis) voted from the top to the bottom in the space of fifteen minutes twice in a row. I don't even care if it gets answered at this point (It's Duolingo, the chances of a useful answer are negligible anyway), nor do I care it's at the bottom tbh... it is what it is, but I miss the days before rampant unchecked trolling.
No need to be curious, I included all the other 56 courses the first time around. The exact number for those (using the roundings available obviously) is 126 738 020. I had to use all 56 because all the X for English courses have a not-so-flattering 18 105 800 users, barely more than the 6th most popular in-house course (Italian for English with 17 million users). That means 72% of all users study in-house courses, compared to 14,7% who study incubated English courses and 4% who study incubated courses for English speakers. That also means only 14,3% of the people studying incubated courses study one from English, actually losing to Spanish (23 396 620 or 18,5%) on that front but even they can't beat the 5th most popular in-house course (German for English, 27,1 million). I have too much time on my hand.
Of course, Duo has said they have 150 million users (by which they mean accounts, two different things as we've seen in this thread) and going by that the average person would currently be enrolled to 3 courses so there are probably a fair amount of mixed users among both English and Spanish speakers, not so much among Russian and Chinese speakers. But I'm not going to make a guess on the percentage because I don't have experience from the fórums of incubated courses.
You do have to take into account the many people doing more than one course, though, which obviously we can't do but I bet Duolingo can. I'd guess somewhere around half the people doing one of the incubated courses are also doing at least some of one of the in-house courses, though that's just my guess from what I've seen in those forums.
Maybe it's more that people just think and incubated course is unfinished so of course it doesn't have all the bells and whistles. Also it's more saying "you should do this" than asking a question. But I upvoted it because it is more relevant than a whole string of little questions above it.
If people don't know what an incubated course is, they probably should read an FAQ before they downvote. :) and I admit my tone was a little snarky this time around, but after having the same thing happen to the same question last time - voted from the top to the bottom in about 15 minutes - I thought maybe someone took exception to my very polite tone last time around (after I posted my question, the overall tone of the questions became a little hostile, which made mine look a little like I was sucking up - not what I intended). So I opened with a little snark this time around in case that was the issue. Clearly, there's someone out there with 30 accounts and nothing better to do but downvote questions they don't like (mine's not the only one that went from the top to the bottom in the same 15 minute span, both times), so... whatever.
I did put the question right at the beginning, btw, more or less unchanged from last time... it's "Are there any concrete plans for incubated courses to get the same basic site features that in-house courses have?"
We've gotten various answers to that over the years, from "Yes, it's coming soon" to "no, incubated courses aren't a priority" to "yes, but we need to run more A/B tests"... meanwhile, some of those incubated courses are years old with nothing done on them on Duolingo's end since those courses came out of beta (like the words list. I do understand that, for example, if a language team hasn't submitted any bonus skills, Duolingo can't implement what they don't have.)
Anyway, it is what it is. Thanks for the upvote on principle. :)
You don't even need a userscript to get the Words list. It just makes it faster than the workaround. Why the list is available and they can't be bothered to just add a tab I would like an answer to. The same with Immersion. There is a few different workarounds for that so how hard it adding a tab.
Last I looked in this thread you were towards the top. Hours later someone dropped you to the bottom. It went quickly so I would guess it is the work of one person.
I'll give you both my upvotes.
Thanks. As I said above, I don't really even care if they answer it at this point, but for that question to go from the top to the bottom in fifteen minutes for the second time in a row when users of the incubated courses are stuck answering that question at least once a week in every course... I just had a moment of "arrgh." I'm over it now, but don't know if I'll bother asking again tbh. Life goes on.
The Spanish tree desperately needs an advance tree or a lot more skills added, especially preterite conjugations (currently only 1 skill where as present has 3?) , preterite vs imperfect, reflexives and the subjunctive plus expansion of the rest of the difficult grammar at the end of the tree that is so rushed and unexplained.
"We were very keen on getting started with Native languages right away and were working with the White House on an agreement to promote it but it got very bureaucratic on their end and fell through, unfortunately. While Duolingo really cares about protecting languages and helping teach heritage languages, we are still focused on growing our user base. Because of that... we can't really launch a course unless it has real potential to help us grow either through a large user base or through media. With regards to Native American languages, it'd have to be through media exposure and it will be hard to achieve that without the support of a large entity like the White House."
Since we're not getting any replies via email, I'll leave this question here:
What's going on with the latest version of the German course for English speakers? The A/B test has been running for quite a while now (7 months!).
We'd be really disappointed if it had to be scrapped because of slightly worse metrics. After all, we only corrected a few major mistakes such as all sorts of sentences appearing in the genitive skill, and we added important missing content like a skill on relative pronouns. It's really just a necessary maintenance release rather than an experiment. Perhaps the flaws of the old version made it too easy.
Just asked this question and deleted it when I saw that you posted it. Here's what I wrote: "What was the thought process for making lessons shorter and easier? I get that taking out activities that make users translate into their target language and making lessons significantly shorter overall makes it easier to complete trees and "keeps people coming back," but that is to be expected it if you make it so people don't have to put in hard work. Of course people are going to keep coming back if they mistakenly feel like they're really learning, when it's actually just becoming that much harder to effectively learn on Duolingo. To me, it makes sense to cater to people who actually have the will and determination to learn, and I guess I'm just wondering why you don't share that thought process."
Something interesting was that a while back when I was doing a French question, instead of translating it to English, like we're supposed to do on Duolingo,I, absent-mindedly answered the question in French and got it wrong. That's the way I learned French in school.
I don't remember what the question was.
If it was something like, "Comment allez-vous?" instead of writing "How are you?" I wrote, "Je vais bien, merci."
This has been answered before by Luis. Several years ago now they had more questons into the target language but after an A/B test found that having more questions into the native language retained more users for longer (or something along those lines). What they seem to have ignored is that it makes the site 100000000x less useful as a tool for learning a language.
Let the easy tree remain easy. But I need a harder tree. I did outside research. I need a lot more than 2300 or so words to reach fluency. I am doing a reverse tree to get more translation, but I need a level 2, or I won't be here long. Level one for people who want to get by easier when they travel, level 2 for more serious learners.
Are there any plans to improve the forums? There are too few forums (I'd unsubscribe from the main one if there was an official announcements one that only staff could post in) meaning that too many people are trying to use them for too different things making each-other uncomfortable in the process. I know this is not meant to be a social network, but it's time to face facts that the current forums are not really enough for the site. I have plenty of suggestions but this is not really a suggestion thread. The other issue is the down-voting. I am guilty of down-voting "I wanna get sum linguts plzzzzzz" posts and other suchlike, but then there are those who create 20 accounts and down-vote everything into oblivion.
Have you ever considered changing or updating the upvote/downvote system or algorithm in any way?
EDIT: Welp, my comment (trying to) politely ask about the system got me in trouble with it. Seriously, 22 downvotes?? Is it that bad? :(
'Nother Edit: Thanks guys for the upvotes and stuff, now I have three upvotes! yay that could easily change, but for now I'm happy. I'll stop bothering you now :)
It's an important question. It's an issue that keeps coming up. Over and over. And over.
And the vote trolls love to downvote any mention of fixing it even in here where it belongs.
It's sad because they are deciding on which questions to answer based on the votes. No matter how skewed they may be.
How do you determine the popularity of a language? In the last questionnaire you told us that is an important part of deciding which languages to add, yet you haven't added Finnish or Latin which don't present new technical problems since HU and TR solved agglutination and excessive cases (criterion #2), do have dozens of volunteers, some of them professional teachers (criterion #3) and for years have seemed to be massively popular by every measure visible to us (criterion #1). And while I'm asking specifically because of those two and would like to know why they haven't been added, supporters of other languages would probably also want to know as it would help them show their support in the most efficient way/place.
We have been told why frequently requested languages like Japanese or Chinese cannot be implemented at the moment, but there has been nothing about why other frequently requested languages are not being added despite various applications to the Incubator. Specifically languages using the Roman or Cyrillic alphabets which do not have the technical problems for Chinese or Japanese: Latin, Finnish, Serbo-Croat, Scottish Gaidhlig, Icelandic etc. It would be nice to know when/if we can expect these to be added.
Oh god, the response thing. If people aren't satisfied with the couple of answers you give, would it be so hard to answer a few follow ups? Otherwise during the next round they will just compete for the podium with questions 4, 5 and 6 from the previous round. Repeat 5 times and we aren't going anywhere.
Why do we have to change the language on our profile to take lessons that may not be available in our language? Shouldn't all languages courses we take be on the same drop down menu? Shouldn't the language set on our profile just be coupled to the user interface and only the user interface, regardless the language we are studying?
Would the Duo team consider adding more specific practice to the site/app? By this I mean, for example, a separate mechanic that could focus on more specific skills such as listening comprehension practice? Given that everyone progresses in different features of the languages at different rates, I thought that might allow people to target their weaknesses, at least until they gain the confidence to practice with a native speaker.
Why don't you create an official newsletter explaining last month's Duolingo news? I think it would be better that make us track than Valyrian is now in the incubator and that another language has been moved from Phase 1 to Phase 2. I think that there are lots of news that you could communicate every month.
Since that article is from May 24th, we should see them added next week! But honestly, anyone who has used Duo for any extended period of time should know how their timescales are. Or maybe improving timescales is a top priority for them and we'll see more accurate ones Soon™.
Sentence discussions are important because often they are the only source of knowledge when there are no Tips & Notes within the lesson.
Could Duolingo further segregate the forums , maybe a separate area for noobs ? Something like 2500 XP to post where everyone else can see , and further like " Questions of a grammatical nature " "Resources ( links , info ) " " Cultural/ inspiration" so on and so forth , instead of just a language tag .... ?
Have you considered not allowing people to set up classrooms who aren't actually teachers?
Or at least not allowing anyone who hasn't tried the program first and made it to level 2?
Level 2 is not much to ask at all of someone who is going to teach a language. And it will give them immediate access to the Educator forums instead of just posting in Troubleshooting where we all tell them to go to the Educators Forum.
I think the idea of allowing people who are not teachers to set up classrooms is to allow parents to do this. It enables to give their children to Duolingo's lessons, without giving them access to the forums, and exposing them to direct contacts from other random users.
That said, I support your idea of requiring a minimum level 2 in the language, so that they can access appropriate forums. If they are setting up Classrooms in order to protect childen, then they need to understand and have experience of Duolingo basics themselves.
New suggestion - for the third instalment of "Ask Us About Duolingo", please disable the down-vote button. Valid questions are being down-voted by those with interests in not bringing the issues raised to your attention.
Also, maybe theme the sessions. For example, Ask us about the forums, ask us about Incubator, ask us about Immersion etc. While that would limit what would be answered in any one session, it would reassure users that questions about areas they are interested in would be answered in a future session.
I don't think that disabling downvoting without also disabling upvoting will help with the skewed voting. The same few users will still control the agenda.
The reality is if they were interested in addressing the biggest questions people have they would have done that already. The same questions appear over and over on the forums. This whole Ask Duolingo exercise just seems like a chance to make it seem like they are listening to the community.
Some ground rules would be nice. 1. Up vote the three best questions. 2. Only down vote inappropriate posts and repeat or non-questions that are not replays. 3. If you change your mind you can take away your up vote, to up vote another question. 4. Even if you have multiple accounts, please only vote with one. I know there's no way to enforce them, but at least the first two would be easy to follow, and would make the voting more meaningful
Did I say disable the button? No, I said ask people to follow a few ground rules that would not be truly enforceable, but would be simple and easy to follow. Most people recognize that only inappropriate comments should be buried, so there is no reason for a comment on here to have a -22.
Maclomhair suggested disabling the downvote button. I was responding to him, not to you.
I don't think your comment is really that helpful. If people are trying to behave decently to each other, we shouldn't have a problem. If good comments are getting buried, that's due to people voting maliciously, and those people aren't going to follow your rules in any case.
Duolingo being the product of a for-profit organisation instead of open-source is holding Duolingo back. I'm sure you guys have (or should have) thought about the posibility of a new open-source alternative being launched that competes with Duolingo.
If Duolingo was open-source there would likely be:
More lanuages avaiable (like Mandarin) and also more languages in the incubator.
More themes, more voc avaiable, beyond just the current ~ B1 proficiency you can get from Duolingo.
Preparation courses for CEFR and similar tests.
More settings / features / customization. You can't even set your time zone on Duolingo atm.
So are you guys planning to improve Duolingo to more closely provide what an open-source platform would provide? Or even opening up the system more, allowing more people to help build and improve the courses?
Level X means nothing, though. You can reach level 25 just by repeating the very first lesson if you're really bored and really boring.
Finishing a course does take a lot of effort, but so does learning anything that is of value. Even after having finished a course, you're only a beginner in the language, although one with a great head start.
Hmmm, I get your point! But still, I believe that if you reached level 25, it means you have somehow put a lot of effort studying that language via Duolingo, regardless of doing that by completing the language tree or not.
My opinion is based in my personal experience: I completed the Spanish tree from Portuguese last year, but my experience here with "French from English" and "Swedish from English" are much more significant, in my humble opinion, even though I'm far from concluding those. I just think it's not representative to deny these experiences just because I didn't finish them yet. :/
Presumably they've learned to say "I am calm", "I am red" (I never did figure out what that one means?), "The girl eats an apple" (or "is eating" but if they're doing that I suspect they'd take the shorter route)... I'd even call them experts on those sentences! And perhaps they've even learned to type them very, very fast!
@Trofaste: Re "I am red": Not a political pundit or a Mancunian football fan then? :-p Or even sporty enough to work up a good sweat every now and then?
My guess is that anyone who's made it to level 25 by repeating the first lesson has rather better programming skills than human language skills... And I'd still consider them boring, even with those inventive programming skills. This site has seen all kinds of efforts when it comes to impressing other users.
@annika_a No, I have too much sense for that, and sports are to be watched from an armchair. :p
Oh yes, definitely boring. I can only imagine how boring it would be to sit there hour after hour doing the same lesson, and only a really boring person could do it without going insane. Indeed. I've seen enough of them to give me ideas for how I could finish every tree in just a few weeks, perhaps get to level 25 in a few, and maybe even learn three or four words in one language or another while doing it! But I'm actually here to learn (seems to be a novel idea for some people), and to help when I can, so I'm not going to waste my time. If I didn't have a life and a brain that wants to do something different occasionally, that would be another matter...
Hmm...denying those experiences is hardly what is meant here... But if one is do have some kind of useful statistics across the Duolingo user base, they can't be based on your or my subjective experiences of doing the courses -- they have to be somehow based on the data Duolingo collects.
I had read that. It provides some useful information, but it doesn't address the question I'm asking. It's a really well written summary, but frustratingly, they've scrubbed any hint of data from it, even to the point of not putting numbers on the axes of their graphs.
Not to mention the fact that their analysis of the data that they present is appallingly flawed!
Their hypotheses regarding 'why English language users have the lowest tree completion rates' miss the most obvious explanation:
As long as there are courses from English to X that are not available from other languages, there will be users on those courses who are not native speakers of English, but are trying to use their (perhaps limited) knowledge of English to learn language X. We meet such Duolingo users on every 'English-to-X' course. These users may well be committed students of language X, but may be unable to progress beyond a certain point because their knowledge of English is inadequate.
Are there any plans to add a "Total Active Days" badge, or include their highest lost streak next to their current one? Even though I lost my 178-day streak yet I'm very sure I've been active for at least 400 days, and no one can acknowledge that unless if I tell them.
Also, what about an indicator on a flag that stands for a completed tree? Just a suggestion.
When will Duolingo add a Online/Offline button? No, I'm not talking about the Streak Button, because a person can still be on with a zero day streak. I think knowing when someone is on or off will help Duolingo. Example: what if there was some issues going on in Duolingo, and you contact the moderators, but then you find out they won't be on till next week. A online/offline button will help people know who is on, and can message them when they are going to be on. Also, I see people with 0 day streaks, and I keep thinking they are always offline, but sometimes they are online, and other times are not. This is why I believe Duolingo should add an Online/Offline button/setting.
Repeating question (since I don't appear to have been the only person who wanted to know):
I find it very frustrating when practicing a topic to be presented in an exercise with the same sentences over and over again, when I have already answered them 100% correctly, and then be told that I am still weak in that topic in words that never came up! I appreciate that different language users need different amounts of repetition (and I find that I need more drill in some languages than others!); will there ever be a feature that allows the user to adjust how often the same thing has to be answered correctly before it is considered learned, in the same way as we are currently able to adjust the number of XP we wish to set as our daily target? [Note: I appreciate that the "game" aspect of Duolingo is important to many users, so I emphasise that I am not suggesting that this setting should affect the total number of questions required to be answered correctly in order to complete the exercise, just the ability to increase the variety of questions included]
Any plans to improve or scrap the fluency score? Because currently it is meaningless. For example I am learning several languages, but my best language, German, and the only one I've completed the tree for is my only third highest fluency rating (and I work on all languages equally).
I think it would be really nice if they gave more optional courses---for example, children's books to view in the basics and more difficult reading material, or even songs, as you advance in the tree. It would probably help a lot with visualizing the words in the language you're learning rather than just translating in your head. Is there any possibility of this happening?
I am just wondering do all the courses teach the same words and sentences. I know the order of each thing taught might differ from courses, but do we learn the same set of words eventually when we finish the tree, or can the incubator's volunteers add whatever they want to teach? Just curious, though.
The discussions forums have the problem that people can almost not find older posts / threads.
I can not even list new user postings (comments) on older threads without e-mail subscriptions as threads are not ordered correctly in register "new" - only really (completely) NEW threads, but not thread updates.
Neither can I list all threads where I have posted to (without e-mail following).
So DuoLingo team, please improve the discussion forums:
- add a register "my threads"
- add a register "updated": This is how traditional forums work showing latest postings / comments with date/clock and username who was last posting.
- maybe add an advanced (global) search function what threads you want to find (search string, username, asc/desc ordering, what sub-forum to search in, etc.
Please, when can we users of Windows phones be treated with the same curtesy as iOS and Android phone/tablet users? I mainly use the web version but sometimes use the Windows app when out and just sit around waiting, excellent time for a little practice.
To make things worse, Windows app is not even mentioned when talking about TinyCards. http://tinycards.duolingo.com/
Can you share if there are any plans to add a "pause" function in timed practice? Or even just to automatically stop the clock when someone goes into the discussion popup? I like using timed practice to help my brain make "natural" connections between translations, etc; but I find it very frustrating when I get a question wrong but don't have the time to determine why or read the discussion threads (which often have helpful comments from native speakers).
Yes, I use the non-timed and timed exercises. What I mean by the "natural" connections is the ability to make decisions re: cases, etc. under the time pressure (aka hopefully my brain kicks into gear and remembers that "hey, I know this!" without me having to dredge through it). I don't find that I practice this effectively with non-timed practice. In other words, I don't WANT the time to think -- I want to force myself NOT to think, and to train my brain to autopilot German grammar.
However, when I have made a mistake, I would really value the opportunity to be able to reflect on what it was & why I made it.
There is already a user script which does stop the time.
It is called DuoLessonsFix: http://duolingo.wikia.com/wiki/Duolingo_Userscripts
Sometimes tabs don't update correctly. I notice my word list is supposed to give a last practiced date. At times words I just did are still showing weak and practiced long ago. I would write your 20% off as a glitch. It will go down at times, but it should only go down with good reason.
I just have one curiosity: who uses the HelpfulDuo account for their own means? It seems to be a fairly active account, so who is using the official HelpfulDuo account to learn a language? I have nothing against it (it is kind of nice to have it on my leaderboard), but it just makes me wonder.
What is the timezone of duolingo app? I ask because twice now over the last 30 days I have completed my lesson before 11.30pm but it resets my streak to 1 thinking I missed a day, when I haven't! It's frustrating because I buy the double or nothing lingots, so I lose it even though I am keeping up with my lessons. It's also very demotivating to be told I'm on a 1 day streak after 16 days straight and not missing a day.