https://www.duolingo.com/xaghtaersis

A note of concern from a long time duolingo user.

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Luis, the changes you have made to duolingo have been met with a lot of negative criticism from its users. Frustrated users are not good good pr duolingo. I have recommended duolingo to a lot of people in the past but I do not know if I keep on recommending duolingo if these negative changes persist.

I am especially concerned about the gems and health bar system. From what I have read it harms more than it does good and this negativity is more negativity on top of the negative pr from removing immersion and the activity stream. My biggest concern with the new gems and health bar system is that it could alienate many users. For example users with very little spare time like me. I do not have the time to wait five hours for my health bars to recharge. It also punishes laddering. I am currently planning to do the Russian for Turkish speakers course and I already know that I will make atleast 20 plus mistakes in some lessons and the health bar system could make it very very frustrating to get through hard lessons with new grammar. Thirdly and most importantly: Users from poor backgrounds who cannot afford the fees to buy gems. Luis, I thought your goal was to make language education accessible to everyone...... To people living in western countries and from more affluent backgrounds the fees for gems are not so high but for for example a rural worker in India it is massive. It can be the difference between food and no food for the day! In addition these users are also limited in time. They have to work long hours to get food on the table. Where do these people get the time to wait until they can do a lesson again?

Honestly, Luis, I am really concerned about the future of duolingo with all these negative changes.

Update: Wow! Thanks everyone for your overwhelming support! I really hope Luis listens to us.

1 year ago

21 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/MacIomhair
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Fully agree, the health and gems would probably make me look for another site.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/estudianteMTI3

Does anyone know, are these changes only in the iOS app for now or are they coming to android also.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/MacIomhair
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I believe it's currently iOS only and then only for the relevant A/B test group; however, the duration of this test is worrisome - I'd have expected this one to click straight-away as a failed test.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/estudianteMTI3

Yeah it sure doesn't sound good.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ionasky
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i could not agree more. As a dyslexic i make huge numbers of mistakes but just keep going and eventually i get there. If thatbis going to result in health loss and inability to keep using the app and lewrning then my frustration levels wil, be such thatbi will quit, just as i did back in the bad old days with the three hearts.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/wboka
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If you use the web version I would recommend installing the Open Dyslexic font and replacing your browser's font with it. You can download it here: https://opendyslexic.org/ Let me know if you need any help. I'm not dyslexic so I can't vouch for it's usefulness but it appears to be developed with the help of dyslexics. Hopefully it helps your ability to read on the web.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ionasky
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Thanks, due to my other ( physical disabilities) i generally use the app from my tablet while propped up in bed or on the sofa..i rarely use a proper computer. I will look inot that for those rare occasiosn though, it looks interesting

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Ifphigenia
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@ionasky I also have physical disabilities which mean that I mainly use my tablet but I use the browser on it for Duo, not the app. I just looked at the download instructions for the site wboka recommended and it has instructions for installing the font on both iOS and Android tablets. I imagine that the general instructions for Windows would work on a Windows tablet. It might be worth you trying to see if you could get it to work on your tablet.

Like wboka, I'm not dyslexic so, I can't vouch for its usefulness.

Good luck!

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/duoliberty

Solid post, xaghtaersis. I was not aware of this element of Duolingo and it immediately reminded me of the days when Duolingo's mantra was that it will be "free forever."


2014:

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Duolingo: It doesn’t cost a cent. It’s free to download and, according to 34-year-old co-founder Luis von Ahn, it will be free forever. When von Ahn gushes about his creation, he’s less excited by the idea of yuppie professionals in Manhattan brushing up on their Italian and more enthused about folks in Latin America attempting to improve their socioeconomic status.

“The majority of people in the world who want to learn a language are learning English because it might get them a better job,” says von Ahn. “And learning a language usually requires money. You need to attend a good middle school that has a foreign languages department, or buy a program like Rosetta Stone that can cost hundreds of dollars.” Von Ahn himself grew up in Guatemala but went to a school with English classes. “I was one of the wealthy few,” he says.

http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/technology/2014/01/duolingo_the_free_language_learning_app_that_s_addictive_and_fun.html


1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jrikhal
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I already know that I will make atleast 20 plus mistakes in some lessons and the health bar system could make it very very frustrating to get through hard lessons with new grammar

is a health consumed when you try a lesson or when you complete one?
My few readings some months ago about that feature had me think it was the latter.
Could someone with the feature (dis)confirm?


Where do these people get the time to wait until they can do a lesson again?

Maybe Duo's A/B tests showed to them that it was "best"(*), in average(**) on all users, when users take only one lesson a day?
Maybe most users memorize things better at that speed? Even many that would say "I want to do more" if they were asked: what is best (for us) isn't necessarily what we'd say is best (for us).

Note : Not saying if the change is good or not. ;)

(*) what exact criteria is evaluated, we don't know
(**) for sure it'd anyway not be "best" for all, but for the majority


EDITION:

I changed

is a gem consumed when you try a lesson or when you complete one?

for

is a health consumed when you try a lesson or when you complete one?

in the above.
Thx burner0 for the correction.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/DonFiore
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My few readings some months ago about that feature had me think it was the latter.

Same. I can support the (original) idea of losing health after each completed lesson and getting back after practice or a reasonable amount of time, but not the idea of losing health after every mistake no matter what the regeneration rate.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Trisha1961
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Xaghtaersis thank you for expressing that so well, which I totally agree with, but probably could not have expressed so well.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Muss403695

This is how I use Duo. I start a new topic, and enter all the new words onto an excel spreadsheet, At this point I dont actually pay attention to what im doing, if I answer correctly or incorrectly, its a pure fluke. It sounds to me like I will not be able to do this anymore ( easily ) So I agree, a very negative and de motivating move. As I have mentioned in more than one post, I have zero interest in any of the numbers or lives or fluency etc etc, I just want to learn a new language in my own time in the way it works best for me. If these changes are an attempt to get money out of me, sorry but i will look elsewhere if necessary.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/stripedkitty
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I don't know a lot about how these things work at all, but how does one determine the success of a feature via AB test? I mean, without some sort of verbal feedback system. Is a feature a failure if Duo users jump ship? Use the program less frequently, or for shorter periods of time? How does any practical information come from that? (Of course they use it less, they're forced to.) And if the users know they're in a test group (which they largely do), wouldn't they maybe stick it out hoping the feature will be removed (if they are against that feature)...

I couldn't agree more re the health bar thing. We have this fun toy and now babysitter might let us know when and how to play with it? I certainly hope not. It strikes me as about as good an idea as adding commercial breaks to a movie at the theatre.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jrikhal
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how does one determine the success of a feature via AB test? I mean, without some sort of verbal feedback system.

By reading the result (number) of each groups with respect to the metric(s) Duo has defined.

Is a feature a failure if Duo users jump ship? Use the program less frequently, or for shorter periods of time? How does any practical information come from that?

We don't know, Duo doesn't communicate about what metric(s) they have chose to use. And what they chose will depend on what is their priority, their goal, and/or on what metrics they've achieved to implement.

Some ideas of possible metrics:

  • retention of users:
    measure if users come back
  • learning efficiency:
    measures how well users memorize what they're taught
  • quality of learning/teaching:
    measures how well the course teaches to the users the language
  • earning:
    measures how well the monetization works well

Then you compare the value for the chosen metric between both group. The group with the best number determine if the feature is to be kept or not.

(which they largely do),

I'm not convinced that most of the users (web, apps) know even about the existence of A/B tests.
And even less, for example, that there are currently more than 450 A/B tests run by staff.

But, even if they do, it'd then have a potential impact only on the "retention rate" and the "earning" metrics. So this knowledge having potentially a significant impact depends on the choice of metrics too.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/rogercchristie
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My comments in five parts [so far!].

Part 1: If you only want to use Duolingo to help you learn the language and you are not bothered about the statistics then you could run multiple accounts - new registrations under different names (and probably different e-mail addresses, and maybe different machines if IP addresses are tracked (a few Raspberry Pi's anyone?)).

Part 2: If you do want to maintain your "scores", I can see a few options:
- More dictionary browsing (a good thing in my opinion).
- More looking up the "correct answer(s)" by searching the Discussions. (If you can't find the exercise on the DL Discussions Search feature, I understand that many of the Duolingo Discussions have been indexed by Google. However, this does tend to quickly eat up your time, especially if your spare time is limited. And you won't even find a Discussion page this way if it has been Locked with no messages posted.)
- Keep your own notes of the "correct" answers so you can cross-check before hitting "Check" or "Return". (Although ... see Part 3.)

Part 3: Re "correct answers": recently Luis said that some of the exercises would be more difficult in future.
Well I am seeing many more basic errors, and more examples of what I call guess-what-we-first-thought-of-and-everything-else-is-"wrong". However brilliant our language knowledge and skills, either of these can make "correct" guesses not just difficult but in some cases nigh-on impossible. (Incidentally, I think there may be a clue in some of the Discussions where the few comments are all 2 or 3 years old. It looks like a batch of previously withdrawn exercises have been reinstated without having corrected the faults that caused them to be withdrawn in the first place. Is this what Luis meant?)
So, if the "health/gem" system is generally adopted, five such errors in the same Lesson (not difficult to find) on the same evening could trigger a "time-out" that could mean I am unable to meet even the minimum goal of one lesson a day, thereby killing my Streak (and effectively adding yet another feature to the useless novelty list!).

Part 4: In general, does anyone else smell a complete sell-out on the wind? Googlingo perhaps, or iOwl, or maybe WinDuo 10.0.

Part 5: Given the rate at which DL is being steadily dis-mantled, what are our options for the future? Well I am now seeing a Duolingo that has been largely reduced to a bare system of prompts to look elsewhere. I am seriously thinking of dropping DL altogether and tailoring my own course of study. But that is a subject for a separate "essay".
And in case I do suddenly disappear from the DL website, then perhaps I should take this opportunity to thank everyone for their generous help and guidance. It was good while it lasted!

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/brooke876681

Applause!

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Ifphigenia
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Well said! I couldn't agree more.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Olbapz
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I'm sorry, I'm not really in the know about things like 'gems'. What are gems? Do you mean lingots? I've been here for quite some time, and I agree there have been a lot of changes, mainly negative changes, but whenever there is a change I feel like I'm like one of the last find out. There was this thing called immersion, and apparently it was removed forever ago, but I just recently found that out. What changes have occurred recently that have monetized the website? Just curious because I seem to never run into the changes until way later because I only use the desktop version, so there is that.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jrikhal
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What are gems?

See this discussion


EDIT:

Prefer that one, much more recent.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Peter_the_spider

i agree!

1 year ago
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