https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7

Attn Staff: "Health" a disaster for Alpha, Beta testers. :(

At the Alpha/Beta stages, courses are full of errors not originating with the testers. Forum feedback from alpha/bet course testers: This is critically frustrating our attempts to test these courses. (For some, they have had to stop.)

In the case of courses in Alpha and Beta, it makes sense to exempt them from this a/b "Health" feature.

I don't know if a/b tests can be applied based on the phase of a course, or if they are only available as a global change for the accounts selected. If the latter, it is something to consider for The List.

Duolingo is an innovator. This won't be the only time a feature intended for full release courses would be a disaster for courses that have yet to reach that stage. So, this matter is well worth consideration.

Thank you! :)

April 27, 2017

69 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/Luis

We'll take care of this. Thanks for letting us know!

April 27, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/jrikhal

Thx for answering, Luis!

April 27, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/iwc2ufan

I look forward to alpha testing without it. It has slowed me down so much.

April 27, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7

Many thanks Luis and Team! :)

April 27, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/TestPanda

Thanks. This has been a real pain and has kept me from bothering lessons for the past few days. Between errors in the course, typos, and the way duolingo asks you to infer translations, all your lives may be gone in one lesson. It makes it pretty hard to give feedback on an alpha course if you can't work through it at a steady pace.

April 27, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/annika_a

Rarely been this glad to be proven wrong... B-)

I still think moderators should have some better way to communicate with you guys (than what is described in this thread) though.

April 27, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7

I have expanded access because I'm a liaison between staff and forum moderators. However, this suggestion would have been outside of that purpose. So, the most appropriate place for me to present it was through the forum.

Also, I prefer to think of my bunny self as an optimistic realist. =^_^=

April 27, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/_Help

Thank you.

April 29, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/annika_a

Good point!

(Is this really the forum (pardon the pun :-) ) for this, though? Staff doesn't seem to hang around here much. You, as a moderator, surely have better (or at least other) channels of communication with staff?)

April 27, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7

The forums are the best place for folks to make most kinds of suggestions. My theory is that a single issue post, written in a persuasive, yet concise manner, supported by the community, can stand out in a deluge.

April 27, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/annika_a

You are an optimistic bunny. :-)

Which makes me rather pessimistic: I don't think we've seen much evidence of listening to sense and reason, however well argued, in forum posts, over the last few years. So if an experienced moderator really thinks this is the best place, it's not good.

April 27, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/pentaan

I agree with annika_a.
I expect a bug report, from each(!) alpha and beta tester to the staff, would make much more sense.

April 27, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7

If I can't get it to the popular page, it will stand out much less. So, let's cross our fingers. :)

April 27, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/annika_a

...and upvote. :-) Done!

Edit: Or, as many of us used to see very often on our Activity streams back in the days of those and Immersion: "Upvoted with a smile". :-)

April 27, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/garpike

If the staff read every view on such things on the forums they would have no time to do anything else. Millions of people use Duolingo; a small fraction participate on this website; it is not reasonable to expect to staff (who, I think, only number in double figures) to follow every (or even most) things discussed here.
Up-voting cannot hurt to make a post stand out; unfortunately most of the people this issue affects won't be using the website, and so won't have a vote. This isn't the best place for it, it is the only place for it; in the same way, an experienced surgeon on an aeroplane would consider a plastic knife the best tool with which to carry out a tracheotomy...

April 27, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/annika_a

... except that we know that moderators have other ways of communicating with the staff.

Which was the point I was trying to make all along: I would assume that moderators would have the staff's ear when using those dedicated communication methods. It's sad to hear this does not seem to be the case.

April 27, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/jrikhal

Forum moderators have... the abuse@duolingo.com mail address.
It's possible that staff read more quickly mails sending there by identified moderators, but we generally also experience long, very long, delay.

Except this ail address for abuse, we don't have a way to directly contact staff about other issues and even less to be sure to have a (quick) answer.

April 27, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/annika_a

But it's a ONE WAY communication.

Oh gosh... and I thought I was pessimistic in the beginning of this thread... :-S

I wish you strength.

April 27, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/jrikhal

@jrikhal: Is it not the case that Duolingo staff communicates with (at least some of) you via Slack or email?

  • Slack: not that I'm aware of.
  • email: yes, they send us every now and then a mail to all of us. But it's a ONE WAY communication.
April 27, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/annika_a

@jrikhal: Is it not the case that Duolingo staff communicates with (at least some of) you via Slack or email? (Edit: This was info I had gathered from Usagiboy7's stream, but I may of course misremember it.) How do they do things like enroll new moderators or give instructions to existing ones?

The abuse@ address is good -- I've always received a reply from there (sometimes even very quickly) when I've reported something I saw that was so egregious it didn't warrant the process of reporting to a mod, the user getting a warning, etc.

April 27, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/stripedkitty

Duolingo is an innovator. This won't be the only time a feature intended for full release courses would be a disaster for courses that have yet to reach that stage.

They are not just not just the errors that are being bitterly complained of, but the health feature in and of itself.

April 27, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/piguy3

Thank you for this post. As a dedicated user of the Guaraní tree, that tree, um, well let's just say, absolutely needs to be exempt from the health system :)

April 27, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Zerr_

There are a lot of other trees that need to be exempt from the system, too, such as Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Dutch, Swedish, Irish, Turkish, Danish, Norwegian, Polish, Hebrew, Esperanto, Vietnamese, Ukrainian, Welsh, Catalan, and Greek.

April 27, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Klgregonis

Absolutely. I hope to contribute reports of the inconsistencies and problems as I go, but brother, if this were subject to health bars and 5 hour refills, I wouldn't touch it with a ten foot pole.

April 28, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/piguy3

Yep, I keep plugging away on the reports in hope of a day when there will be an active contributor to do something about them!

I know people have applied. I wish Duolingo would get around to accepting somebody, even if maybe their application were somewhat less than perfect because there are so very many transparently obvious fixes that desperately need making.

April 28, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/dawnofclarity

This A/B testing is a royal pain in the proverbial.

I use 3 ways to access Duo depending on the situation - iPad, Android Phone, and PC/Web Browser. It's disturbing to be told on the one hand that your lingots are now gems (which I note one has to pay for in future), then next day to log in on the we and still have lingots in your account... what? Also some new Health thing popped up on the pad yesterday with no explanation - just a "got it" box I had to click - I've no clue what I was clicking "got it" for as there was nothing to explain this feature.

All that said, I'm still a solid Duo fan ;)

April 27, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7

I had to be realistic in what I asked for. Duolingo will carry out the A/B test. But, they won't get the data they want from courses in alpha/beta. So, I limited my ask to something I believed was more achievable. :)

April 28, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/iwc2ufan

So much agreement. It also just makes zero sense for more complex languages. Not everything is as simple as the Spanish course. It has been making alpha testing Japanese a lot less interesting and much slower than it needs to be.

April 27, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/elvper

Another big issue related to it is the revision system. Revision by redoing exercises (the strengthen feature) might be good enough for a fair share of people learning their first language or a language unlike any they've learnt before (i.e. Japanese) or who learn slowly. But for those who have some experience under the belt or progress quickly reviewing by redoing skills / using the strengthen feature is annoyingly slow and inefficient.

What's needed, in my opinion, is a "quick review" option, for vocabulary. It should benefit all: experienced and quick learners as it allows them review and progress more quickly, new and slower learners as something to do in addition to repeating skills to 'remind' them of some words more often. The huge benefit of "quick reviewing" options is that they can "remind" you of a large amount of vocabulary in a short amount of time! Thus it should increase the retention rate of vocabulary and speed up progress. Certainly there are a few smaller downsides to it too, but overall I'm pretty sure it should have a positive effect.

It could get "detected" when a "quick review" option is called for: for example when the student tends not to make grammar errors and has a good retention rate.

April 27, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/_Help

Thank you so much for pointing this out! It has been so frustrating testing Japanese and not be able to continue because I don't have any hearts. Thank you for bringing this issue attention.

April 27, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/jrikhal

Do you know how many (official) alpha-testers you are for JA-EN course?

For all courses:

  • the team can designate only 3 alpha-testers
  • the alpha-testers don't test with their own account.

However, I've seen already dozen of users saying they were alpha-tester chosen by the JA-EN team and, each time, they seemed to be testing with their own account.

April 27, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/TestPanda

There's a lot of testers. The course creators also didn't grant accounts. They asked you to create a new one. Some listened and others used their main account.

April 27, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/jrikhal

Thx for the answer.

The course creators also didn't grant accounts.

Ok, so the team doesn't use the "alpha-test" system.


Once the account created, how do they give access to the course (which isn't accessible from the website)? Or do they describe and ask to use the hack in order to access the course?

April 27, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/TestPanda

If you have the beta duolingo app on iOS you are able to select japanese like any other language. This is why they required iOS to become a tester.

April 27, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/jrikhal

Thx for the answer.

Yes, with gibbothebee last comment sharing links, it became crystal clear (to me) that they use a totally different system for alpha-testing than for all other courses.

April 27, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/_Help

To do the Japanese course, they send you an email with a code, and you download TestFlight and you do it on the Duolingo app that you download from there.

April 27, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Der-Michael

Once the account created, how do they give access to the course (which isn't accessible from the website)? Or do they describe and ask to use the hack in order to access the course?

I'm an actual alpha tester but was able to access the Japanese course from the website. I think this occurred when I left the Duolingo app on the Japanese course, then went to the website. The problem is, if I didn't have a tab open with my other course, I think I would have lost access to it, which is why I believe they ask you to create a new account when alpha testing.

Again, actual tester, no hack involved. In fact, I didn't know that such a hack existed.

April 28, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/goosefield

I've seen tons of Japanese alpha testers (I am one as well). There are definitely more than three alpha testers.

April 27, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/jrikhal

Thx for the answer

There are definitely more than three alpha testers.

If team JA<-EN has granted alpha-testing accounts to more than 3 persons, it means this course is running (for alpha-test, at least) on a totally different system than all other courses (which can grant only 3 alpha-test accounts).

(I am one as well)

And your personal account doesn't show Japanese as studied, so it seems that my second above item applies to JA<-EN too.
Hence that users with Japanese in their list of courses may not be official alpha-testers (but maybe having used the hack to access the course which is still under construction).

April 27, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/piguy3

Hence that users with Japanese in their list of courses may not be official alpha-testers (but maybe having used the hack to access the course which is still under construction).

Yeah, there are some of us who fit that description, too :)

April 27, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/goosefield

I believe it is running on a new alpha testing system. Since it uses a brand-new system to teach Hiragana, it would be better to have as many people as possible providing feedback.

April 27, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/jrikhal

Would you have the link (or email) where to apply to be an alpha-tester?

it would be better to have as many people as possible providing feedback.

In which case, they could/should open the course to everybody. ;)

April 27, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7

I hope you don't mind I've removed the email. It is only intended for Alpha testers, right? If it is intended for anyone, I'll undelete the comment. I just wanted to otherwise protect it. :)

April 27, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/jrikhal

Thx for the links!!

April 27, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Middangeard

I am testing with my own account... mostly because I read the second email that did not mention at all that we needed to test with a different account before I saw the original email. However, seeing that I quickly realized the issue that could possibly cause me to lose my progress (going to duolingo web version without switching to another language first causes the web version to act like I'm a new user), I figured it might be ok to continue with my regular account.

April 27, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/_Help

This isn't my main account however. My main account is LuceroMende, which I haven't been using since I've been focusing on Japanese the most. I just did the placement test for Spanish so that I can get hearts easier, so that I can continue with the Japanese course.

April 27, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/_Help

I do not know how many official testers there are. Sorry :/

April 27, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/RedUmbrell

Thank you so much for posting this. I am 2/3 of the way through the Japanese tree but only because I asked a Japanese team staff member to gift my account some gems. Without the free gems I probably would be only 1/3 of the way or less through the course.

If there were no health system I probably would have already completed the tree.

April 27, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/duonks
  • 1905

I don't like Candy Crush features interfering with my thirst for knowledge. I gave up on the new account due to the health system, only to find that the course works perfectly fine with my original one. I learn by making mistakes. For me, a five hour gap after a mistake is detrimental to this process and extremely frustrating. Without learning new course material, the only reason I'd stick around here would be for contact with the people I follow via their activity, to learn from their contributions for example... Oh wait :-/

April 29, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Ontalor

Thank you for flagging this! Although I think the health feature has no place in any kind of education app, it's particularly bad in the newer courses. I'm just frustrated enough as a Japanese alpha tester trying to get past the Hiragana lessons to get to the actual sentences with this feature.

April 28, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/jrikhal

Is the health system separate for each course: if you do 5 mistakes in one course (hence loose your 5 health bar) will you have a separate 5-bars full counter for other each of you courses?

If not, I fear what your asking/suggesting will not be possible. But I'll explain once (dis)confirmed the above question as it'd change totally the answer. :)

April 27, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/piguy3

No, it's not separate. Looks like we have the definitive answer on whether that will inhibit the implementation of this eminently sensible change, however :)

April 27, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/_Help

No. Once you lose all five hearts, you have to practice to get one, or wait five hours to get one heart.

April 27, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/ISpeakAlien

Very good point. It's pretty bad when Duolingo specifically says that Health was invented o discourage learning...

May 4, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/qfwfq213

I've said it before on another thread, but I want to add my voice to the chorus telling DuoLingo that the Health feature really has to go. To make a learner afraid to make a mistake is to stop that person from learning. I learn from my mistakes, just as much as from getting things correct. But, I've had to stop using the ios app and use my desktop, which has a few downsides. I don't mind the ads, they're fine. I don't mind in-app purchases, and I'd even pay an one-time fee for an ad-free Duolingo experience if that helps. But, if "Health" stays around or (heaven help us) gets added to the web-version...I'm out. And that will make me sad.

May 22, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/ISpeakAlien

Thank you so much for telling Duolingo to encourage language learning! Someone who knows very many languages called Benny Lewis (more details at https://www.fluentin3months.com) learns languages by making mistakes (ok, that's an exaggeration, but he does think mistakes are useful), but has mentioned using Duolingo.

May 22, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/swingbeatnik7

This 'health' thing is the only time I've actually believed people when I read that they'd leave DuoLingo. :/

April 27, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Maria108599

"Health" is TOTALLY unhealthy to learning. It isa diasset!!! It is SO SO SO discouraging!!! Duolingo: Remove "Health"

April 27, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Zerr_

"Health" a disaster f̶o̶r̶ ̶A̶l̶p̶h̶a̶,̶ ̶B̶e̶t̶a̶ ̶t̶e̶s̶t̶e̶r̶s̶.̶

I'm glad I don't use the app, but if something like this is permanently brought to the website, I'll leave. I love this website and I promise I'll leave if that's done.

April 27, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/bleepandbloop

What exactly is/was health? I never experienced it and I just keep seeing threads complaining about it.

April 28, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Ontalor

Every time you make a mistake in a new lesson, you lose a health bar. Lose all five, you get kicked out of the lesson and can't start a new one until you regain a health bar, which you can do by doing a practice session, buying with gems, or waiting five hours. It's complete nonsense.

April 28, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/RCCoughlin

why are you giving him lingots? he has tons of them and he probably already has everything in the store!

April 28, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7

I don't know who you are referring to, but, lingots can be a symbolic token of "thanks", not just a type of access currency. I give lingots to folks who make helpful comments even if they already have a million lingots. :)

April 28, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/RCCoughlin

good point... ;))) (ha... double chin!)

April 28, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/IDontHateY

Thanks a lot. I myself lost health because duolingo only accepted "なな" as seven when it's also "しち".

May 5, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/ISpeakAlien

It's kind of surprising that the only language you're learning is Japanese. Did you create your account for Japanese?

May 5, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7

I'm under the impression that those two aren't strictly interchangeable. For instance, I wouldn't use nana+ji (for 7 o'clock). I would use shichiji. So, I'd pay attention to which is appropriate for the situation. :)

May 6, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/ForestPolyglot

Man, that's messed up. Kinda. Idk, its just confusing. How could it mess up if it was unaltered?

April 27, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/iwc2ufan

I am still experiencing this on my alpha tester account, neko091.

May 2, 2017
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