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https://www.duolingo.com/profile/YuliaStart

Please remove the Hearts system.

I am an old user who came back, but this recent feature change is driving me away again. I left duolinguo a while ago because the hearts system was super discouraging. Losing hearts and having to restart a lesson was always frustrating. My mom eventually convinced me to use it again, and I was super happy with it for a few months. I was especially encouraged because this feature was finally gone.

Now, today, while trying to keep my streak up I was really upset to see that the hearts are back, and they are way worse. You get five chances to make a mistake. these mistakes are shared across languages, so that if you fail in, for example, polish, you can't practice russian. Not unless you do one of the following:

1) Wait five hours

2) Pay with gems. This is so obviously the ultimate point of this feature that I feel insulted as a user. Just let me pay a subscription with clear terms and limitations. Sabotaging the usability of your app will not make me want to pay to keep using it.

3)"Practice weak skills". Practicing weak skills might sound like a good idea, unless you are a user on a bad internet connection. Seriously, it takes over 1 minute for me to get a response that i got a question wrong on some wifi connections, and im based in a prosperous country. to do the "practice weak skills" option takes a painfully long time. I tried. Bonus: This is just as bad as it was when I was using the app a year or so ago. This is not motivating.

The emotional response to getting penalized like this is not good, and it's so obvious that this feature isn't to benefit me as a user, it's to get money out of me. I feel like making mistakes while I'm learning is too expensive, both literally and emotionally. Ultimately I feel penalized for learning and it sucks.

May 26, 2017

64 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Stephen730566

I lost a lot of motivation when they announced this was coming, and it finally hit me today. I immediately uninstalled the app. I hope they get that information in their tracking metrics.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Corci123

That explains why my son's account looks different from mine! He started Italian yesterday and got fed up almost immediately as his health ran out very fast as he is a complete beginner! What a pain! I hated the old system. Mine has not changed yet, I have still got the old version.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/dapperface

I absolutely hate the heart system and have complained about it before. Punishing mistakes is what makes people turn away from language learning...you’re SUPPOSED to make mistakes, that’s how you learn! They really need to remove this awful feature, it just gets in the way and doesn’t aid learning at all.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/HarryKnight456

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8OebgtUjLg4

"Completely free, no annoying ads, no misleading in app purchases. Free at last"

Also remember "Free forever"

Oh wait-

This is AWFUL. You shouldn't be punished for making mistakes or progressing for that matter. I would post my friends message about it but it contained too many swear words. They have uninstalled the app because they said the whole idea of Duolingo is ruined, and it is. If someone from Duolingo is reading this, change it now before it is too late. Whoever came up with this needs firing. Immediately. Before too much damage is done.

Also while you are at it, add Tips and Notes to iOS


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sippingbird

Ugh. I came here to complain about exactly this. I complained when they added a thing that wouldn't allow you to get past the ad at the end for several seconds. That was bad. This is terrible.

I said then and it's just as true now that the real problem here is that instead of focusing on user experience the team is now focused on maximizing ad revenue and to hell with the user. Honestly if I wasn't nearly done with the Spanish tree anyway I would just delete the app.

Sure you can use the web but part of the attraction is mobile convenience.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jrikhal

Hi YuliaStart,

If you want your message to reach staff for sure(*), the only way is to report/feedback directly to them by using the green button at the bottom of the Help Page.

(*) The forums are a "for the users, by the users" place. Staff sometimes post things (and read) but it's not the way to reach them and you can't know if they read your message.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/YuliaStart

Thanks. I was searching for a way to contact them before posting this, as I do not like being public in my complaints. For example, they only have a bug reporting system, not a feedback button. As a user, I would not report this as a bug. What should I do? (I have now reported this as a bug, because I had no other choice.)

So this is another feedback issue -- they have not made themselves available enough for community feedback. You can see also in the community discussions people are posting bugs. This is why, in exasperation, I posted here as well. I suggest that if you find it frustrating that people are posting bugs and feature complaints in the community section, that you also report it. I have reported that as well now.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jrikhal

they have not made themselves available enough for community feedback.

Maybe is it on purpose: being a small team they don't want to be overwhelmed. And the more visible, the more they risk to receive mails about things that are neither a bug report nor a feedback.

I'm not saying it's a good choice (nor saying it's a bad one). just sharing what I see as a potential reason/explanation for their choice.

[(very) personal opinion] That said, if what I want to report/feedback doesn't fit one of the "types" listed, I'd take it as a "Sorry, we don't want to receive (here or on forums) any feedback about that. Not that they don't care, but because they can't read about everything and because they take decisions based on their A/B tests not on voiced opinions.
Good or bad, it's in any case the way Duo works so IMHO "fighting against their way of working" is a waste of time.

But, you still have a way to not have to chose a "type" => go to the help page when you're under any interface that is not the English one (=while following a course that is not for English speakers). Under all those other interface, the Help menu is very short but, at least, the green button doesn't asks you to chose a "type of report". ;)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/YuliaStart

Its true that with small teams its harder to manage a community.

There is an easy way to get feedback on new features -- have a feedback button if you are A/B testing or releasing a new feature. It's crucial to retain users while testing features and get feedback. it can be something as simple as "how was this lesson format?" with 5 potential stars. This way only users who are being exposed to a new feature are able to give you feedback, and you get a lot of feedback. Also, if you do not have such a feature, then the only way users can let you know how they feel is through not using the app any more, which probably is not what an app maker would want.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jrikhal

There is an easy way to get feedback on new features -- have a feedback button if you are A/B testing or releasing a new feature. it can be something as simple as "how was this lesson format?" with 5 potential stars.

Yes it'd be an easy way to have personal opinion feedback.
But Duolingo has always said(*), and acted accordingly, to not base their decision on (voiced) opinion but on metrics on users behaviour.

Maybe a bad choice but their choice... nothing we can do about it.

(*) See for example this 2014 presentation by Luis where they clearly states that one of their 7 pillars is "Based on data, not opinion".

P.S.: Yes, some of the other 6 pillars have since fall in disgrace, but that one didn't, as far as we can see.

the only way users can let you know how they feel is through not using the app any more, which probably is not what an app maker would want.

That's exactly how Duolingo measures [decided to measure] if their changes are good or bad in average for the users. Together with some other metrics they implemented.

Good or bad choice, it's a fact.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/YuliaStart

User feedback is data. Your defense of not listening to users is really strange. Deleting an app can also be seen as "just an opinion". It feels like you are telling me that I am powerless and this is how it should be. I vehemently disagree. While pointing me to a direction where my feedback could have an effect was good, the rest of this discussion, not so much. It felt like you are trying to win something, rather than trying to make this somehow constructive. And it's clear that I am not the only one upset by this feature. I am, as a user, perfectly within reason, using this forum to voice my displeasure along with other users. If enough users communicate and are clear about what works and what doesn't it is more likely that change will come about. Sitting on our hands saying "oh we can't change anything" will get us nowhere.

Note: I am not trying to give feedback to the creators of the app at this point. I haven't since you said they don't check the forums. My last comment was pointing out that there is a way to get good feedback without losing users.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jrikhal

User feedback is data.

... and user opinion.

P.S.: This was my last message as my purpose here isn't to debate about "are Duo choices to only base their choice on their metrics good or bad" but only to explain how Duo staff is working and on what they base their decisions. And because we reached the 6-depths embedded comment.

burner0 gave you the best answer about what is "the only "message" Duolingo corporate is at all likely to heed"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sens44

WHAT. You have to wait five hours???

I remember the hearts from before, I had just joined and I didn't like them either. It was always super frustrating to me. I hate to hear that they're back...

I'm afraid with all the different features that eventually Duolingo will not be free anymore, and even then it might be too annoying to use. Which is such a shame, because it's a fantastic resource (or it was...). I was planning on doing a lot of trees after I finish French. I don't know if I'll be able to afford it by then.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TamaraSIBL

Not five hours total. Five hourse per heart bar. So, 25 hours. If your internet/WiFi connection is working. Great, huh?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MichelleLinguist

I agree the new system is terrible. I dealt with the advertisements when they were added but I cannot abide by the health system. I am going to rate the apple app a 1. I will still continue on web browser and use the app on my droid but this new system ks terrible. It's a real shame because Duolingo is such an effective learning tool.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KxngDeo.

I thought they removed the heart system last year but it seems some users still have it. It really discouraged me in the past which is why it took me so long to finish my trees.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Gwynn10

The heart system just started for me when I was on today. I have been using Duolingo for years but this will stifle me I feel. I haven't quite worked it out yet but as I have been through the complete tree three times I want to be able to work on areas that I need.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/encona

Absolutely. The health atrocity has totally ruined Duolingo. Was doing really well with my Spanish and now I'm stuck and have totally lost the will to use it. Nice work, whatever dolt came up with this piece of genius. Get shot of it now, for goodness sake.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Matt830749

Please please please remove this awful hearts system...Whoever thought this was a good idea they were woefully mistaken!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/encona

My second post on this subject. Does anybody from Duolingo actually read this stuff? I have a really busy day ahead and I just wanted to do a quick couple of lessons. Ran out of stinking health and so didn't complete it. I'm on the verge of quitting this now, after almost a year of really enjoying it. HELLO!?GET SHOT OF THIS, YOU IDIOTS.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/chromalogue

Agreed that people should not be penalized for making mistakes as they learn new skills. It's incredibly demotivating and demoralizing, and poor pedagogy.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JOAT2B

I find the hearts very frustrating though I can understand (kinda) why they did it. I think it would be more beneficial to use the hearts as a grading scale rather than a health meter, so we won't get kicked out of the lesson for too many mistakes. Instead, we just wouldn't be able to do a new lesson until we received a passing grade. That's my biggest problem with it; I'm getting booted mid-lesson. If they got rid of that frustration, I'd be more happy with having to redo a lesson to get a better grade.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jclujan8

Soooooo sad about this, seriously. This app is loosing their main goal and essence....


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/EricJones283099

I completely agree. The heart system discourages learning.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/duonks

I find this system is really bad too. Yesterday I was happily moving along through the Ja-En course, until the app suddenly switched over to the new system and I got halted in my tracks on a new lesson. Practicing the older skills is all very well, except they were still golden and I wasn't learning anything new, and getting charged 350 gems at a time to refresh is pure extortion. Losing a heart on a sentence the very first time you come across something new is ridiculous... How can you be expected to know it if it's new?

The end result? I voted with my feet and switched over to android and the web.

I really hope the hearts system doesn't survive, at least in its present form. When it comes to duo, I'm not a very happy donkey at the moment! :-)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CatherinGregory

DL was once about learning, now it's about monetizing. I am seriously disappointed in what this so called 'health' brings to the user experience, perhaps some health is in someone else's pockets. And, I don't think the iOS version is so fabulous that new users are going to jump onboard the game at those prices. I had recently leveled up to Greek 11. (although it is hard, very hard for my near 64yr brain) I was getting into it! Then, last night, I came to a full stop thanks to the iOS a/b test. There is no way to keep this so called 'health' ... and 450 'gems' were extorted in order to carry on in the same lesson. Sure, I have lots, but, with my need to repeat, they will quickly deplete. And then I won't be able to afford Russian.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PunkJesus

Just use the desktop system then. It's much better than the mobile. It doesn't have the gem garbage.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Bob46196

I do agree that the heart system is horrible. However, you can avoid it completely by not using the app. Use the web version by going to the Duolingo website and logging in, which is possible on your phone or tablet too, although it works best from a computer. The web version also seems to have some better features. Admittedly, it may not be as convenient for some people. Everyone abandoning use of the app for the web version might send a message to Duolingo.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Luke110762

Are you listening Duo? Nobody likes the hearts function. Like others, I have deleted the app as well.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/juliecaesar

I wish I could upvote this more than once...


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/UniqueJoy

Same with me when I was a newcomer the heart system was driving me crazy because I didn’t know anything and I️ just started and I started to get stressed a lot because of the wait and paying gems


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/warind

Amen! It’s so erratic. I left for vacation and had nearly full heart health. When I came back I had none so I can’t resume. Yet the stupid owl keeps telling me it’s time for my lesson.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/encona

Duolingo seem determined to ruin it and didn’t reply to me on Twitter. I had set up the “streak freeze” and when the latest ipdate came on, I just nearly a year’s streak. Seems childish, I know, but it just discouraged me even more. Their remit is making this fun and it’s not anymore.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AblazeSushi

Its extremely frustrating!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Matt805293

Why am I being punished with this horrible heart system? I tried "plus" for a while, but didn't really find any benefit to paying for virtually the same service. So I guess the realization that there is little to no benefit to upgrading to plus, has driven this owl to punishing users into subscribing. Hey Duo, NOT this is not the way to build a happy user base, or encourage language learning!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/acmallen

Absolutely, agree!!!!! I feel penalized for learning and it sucks.

My app just updated and now I have to use the heart system. This system is completely against the mission statement of the dulingo program. You say you want a system that is easy an free but you insisted on starting a program that makes your customers pay to be use the program. I watch your commercials, the ones that make you more money than if I were to pay. I have a running streak of 545 days and now with the new heart system I am ready to quit your program and delete the app. Make it an option, if you want a program that is more strict than great use the hearts, but if you want to practice learning a new language with less stress, then allow me to opt out of the hearts.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Bob46196

In case you missed posts about this, switch from the app to the web version. No more hearts.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/veeless

The web version is tougher to use on an iPad or Phone, although that might not be an issue with a regular computer. One issue I have with using the web version on my iPad is that you have to keep switching keyboards depending on whether or not your answer is to be in your native language or the one you are learning. The app version automates this.
So in my case I trade one issue for another. I can’t remember the last time I used Duo but unless and until they get rid of the heart system I just don’t feel motivated to use the program.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Peter501981

Please remove these Hearts. It terribly dimotivating the Lerner's!

The hearts must expose love but Duolingo hearts are from the evil - the expose hate and only hate!!!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/26x
  • 563

I planned on using Duolingo for hours today to work on some difficult exercises. I lost all of my hearts in five minutes. Instead of me using the Duolingo app, I’ll be doing something else today.

I don’t have the money to get the premium version with unlimited hearts, and I don’t have access to a laptop very often, so I’ll just wait until tomorrow to log back in (if I even have time tomorrow). I can’t imagine that this was the intent of the owners: to drive away users with the heart system.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/IreneTurne3

Don't care for the heart system either, but are any of you getting multiple factoids about duolinguo before you can even start your lesson? I haven't bought any add ons and wonder if this is the reason I'm being tortured with the same 5 plus facts before each session. I keep persisting pecking away at the x's but now occasionally get a white screen and have to start all over. Is this duolinguo's way of getting rid of people who don't add to their revenue stream.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/EricJones283099

I'm afraid that these factoids are a new "feature" of the iOS app (I don't know about the Android app). It's completely annoying, and I have submitted a bug report to Duolingo. However, this problem exists for both free and paying customers.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/salihua

Android does not have hearts in the three languages I am studying. It used to have them. It is a terrrible, punitive system working against the purpose of Duolingo... to make people comfortable with learning through reinforcement. You might as well be in a classroom and scared that you will say something wrong... so you don't respond at all. That is what punishment does. It associates all of the frustration and feelings of failure with learning an language.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sionell

I've stopped using the iOS app at all because the hearts system is annoying and I don't want those factoids. I use Safari on my phone to do my practice there.

Although recently I lost a 3400 day streak, so now I'm not really using duolingo much at all. (I'd prefer if the streak just counted the number of days you practiced total instead of days in a row - but nobody asked me :)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TimofeiKos

Surprisingly I don't have Duolingvo Plus or anything else but I don't have the heart system or anything like that! I remember when I just started I had it but now it is gone! Can anybody explain this?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/veeless

I’m sick of this system as well. I’ve been struggling through with it for quite some time now.

Now there is a new change for me, my hearts don’t renew at all. The only way I get them back is though practicing things that are getting rather redundant with me. I want to keep trying to learn the language I’m intent on learning but I seem to always get the raw end of the deal when it comes to these A-B experiments and there is no way for me to go back to the way that worked better for me.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SunnyDol

Yeah... This is so demotivating. May they get rid of the hearts system and make learning fun again!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/encona

So demotivating, in fact, that I gave up. It’s a real shame, but I only have so much spare time to do this and I don’t have time to keep trying to build up the hearts thing again.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AblazeSushi

It's very frustrating!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Solvind

I luckily still don't have it, but it drove my boyfriend away from using it.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tcs_az

“1) Wait five hours”

Five hours from when? It seems that every time I check my hearts it says ‘Next Heart in 4h 59m 47s’, even if it is first thing in the morning. It seems that the clock doesn’t start until I check it.

Overall, I don’t know how waiting for hearts helps me learn a language.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ken92229

When I do a lesson and I run out of hearts and can't complete the lesson it makes me want to drop Duolingo like a bad habit. I don't care about my streak. It's irritating. I'm stuck. I'm not learning. If this is how it is now, Duolingo, I will have to say goodbye, which is sad, I have loved the app so much.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Bob46196

There is a way of avoiding this problem. I did post this advice once in this forum, but I see there are so many comments now that people are probably not seeing it, so I'll post the information again. You can avoid the hearts/health completely by not using the app. Just go to the website and log into your account. This is a bit inconvenient if you use a phone, but it actually works better than the app from a computer or tablet. There are more features, better audio, and most importantly, none of those hated hearts. If you want to test out of a level without completing all the exercises, three hearts will reappear, but only because it is a test that you have to get through without making three mistakes. Otherwise, you will never see a heart again. I've been enjoying Duo very much since figuring this out.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/veeless

I hung in there and tried to adapt to the new heart system. But it just doesn’t work with the way I learn. I tried to adapt the way I learn but it really slowed me down to the point that I finally just faded away from using it.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Logan550377

I'm learning Arabic and it's absolutely not a cakewalk. It's easy to mess up a lot of these lessons - especially since I don't have much time to dedicate many days in a row. Exactly as the OP said - it feels punishing. I originally took to Duolingo so well because it felt like an over-all positive experience. If I messed up? It's okay. We'll try again. It's no big deal because everyone makes mistakes.

Right?

Not anymore. Now you better make sure the lessons stick, because if they don't, you have to pay or sit in time out, or try again with the fear of failure. Duolingo is great for those who have social anxiety about practicing with real people - but now it's giving the anxiety of failure anyways. I just passed a major hurdle in my Arabic lessons today, only to find out that failing to get my brand new stage of lessons right causes me to have to fork over this program's pretend currency to try again?

Duolingo, are you running an educational program, or are you getting a foot in the door on the mobile games monitization market? What the heck?? Please remove this system. It's VERY detrimental to teaching.

I saw the comment about not using the app, but man, my browser on my phone doesn't run as well as the app, and I like practicing in the car or at the park.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tcs_az

Use the website instead of the app. It doesn’t use ‘hearts’ and has fewer ads. The only downside I have seen is that it does not you practice speaking.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Jason_2026

Agreed. Absolutely hate the heart system. I wish they would add something like a quick survey to monetize our use versus using hearts and plus.


[deactivated user]

    Using Hearts as punishment is hateful. Duolingo is NOT a FREE app. They use false advertising on the Google Play Store. To reported the app using false advertising to Google Play at;

    Open the Google Play Store app Google Play. Go to the detail page for Duolingo. Tap More More and then Flag as inappropriate. Choose a reason "Other". Put in comments that Duolingo app is advertising as FREE when it is NOT Free. You get 5 Hearts then you have to PAY. This is not a free language learning experience. Tap Submit.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Steve922988

    Nothing is going to be free on an American site. Listen to a green Christmas. Famously singing do I have to tie my product into Christmas. The word charitable does not exist anymore.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/robin.fli

    Just practicing 5 times works in restoring health and I can do this in about 10 minutes, depending on the language. Also you don't have to practice 5 times in the language you were in, if you have multiple languages, you can move through them all. I guess I don't mind anymore because for awhile my iOS devise was where I could practice the most.

    Have to say, refilling my health with gems works for me too as there isn't anything to buy in the "lingo" store because I have "bought" with lingots or gems anything I would want right now. I have built up a large amount of gems with finishing units in multiple languages.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jimnicholson

    It's called Health, not Hearts.

    Hearts was an old system, that you can still see while testing out. It's scope was limited to the current learning/strengthening session, and you could buy a spare Heart in the shop. Hearts was replaced by the Progress Bar.

    Duolingo is currently A/B testing a new system called Health on iOS. The scope of Health is your entire account (at least while on iOS).


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TimofeiKos

    It doesn't matter still simular!

    Learn a language in just 5 minutes a day. For free.