Rudeness in Discussion
I just wanted to point out that I've seen quite often that in the discussion comments, people can get a bit nasty. Sometimes if people post a question on grammar (whether a Level 2 or a Level 20), commenters will explain in a patronizing fashion. Or if someone accidentally gives wrong information in an answer, others will immediately respond in an excessively negative way. Please remember that this is a learning community and there's nothing wrong in asking questions, messing up every once in a while, or just trying to refresh your memory.
I have also noticed people downvoting questions that other learners have. For instance, in the Esperanto from English course there was a learner who was constantly asking about word definitions and in response people would downvote his question and patronize him about not using a dictionary.
It is sad to see as the primary use of these discussions is for learners to ask questions.
These forums exist for a reason yes. However, on any forum it can be expected that people first put in a bit of effort themselves.
To stick with your example of someone asking for definitions. The time spent to ask the question could have been used to look it up in a dictionary. So in such cases it seems they are expecting someone else will do the work for them.
So if it is a simple straight forward question there's nothing wrong with reminding someone that there are such things as dictionaries.
I would disagree.
The behavior is not helpful. Patronizing people, downvoting their legitimate questions and giving half hearted advice that dictionaries exist helps nobody.
The time spend doing that could have been spent typing in the answer instead, which would have actually helped them. They also could have for instance, suggested an actual dictionary resource, which could have been helpful. An assumption that they expect that others do work for them should not be made, but rather an assumption that they are asking because they simply don't know how else to get help should be made. We can guide people to resources without being rude to them. We also face many people with different backgrounds, at different ages and with different ability in not only learning language but in using the tools available to learn languages.
This unhelpful and rude behavior can discourage people from learning. It can slow down their progress by making them afraid to ask questions. In the worst cases it might drive them away from Duolingo or even learning a language in general as people already find a tough time maintaining motivation.
I don't agree with this. While dictionaries and online help do exist, it's also helpful to have people that can answer the question directly and clarify as if to have a teacher in the room. I get wanting people to use translators for nouns and everything but that is no reason to foster negativity. I know that I have asked questions about grammar structures in which I did research but none of them fully answered my question to the extent or clarity that I needed.
Some things that happen in the language / sentence forums:
Every week, at least, in the Russian forum someone posts a thread asking how to type in Russian. What's stickied at the top of the Russian forum? A thread about how to type in Russian; I don't think I've ever read such a thread that actually referenced reading it.
At least one in ten posts in the Spanish sentences tab are some variant of "Wanted to be the first post!" as if that isn't somehow spam, and also a waste of the time of those who go there to answer questions.
And uncountable violations of the injunctions clearly shown in a big red box before posting to not use the forum for errors/omissions and to read the existing questions before posting.
So, yes, there are many people who could do with a reminder as to the rules of our common co-existence here.
If you see something racist, violent, or inappropriate, definitely report it. I did it with a couple of people and Duolingo actually responds back with how they solved the situation! Granted, it's not immediate, but they've responded to all my requests. Also, it's good if you get a screenshot, as it helps to prove your point just in case.
You can report people here: https://support.duolingo.com/hc/en-us/requests/new
This sides with people downvoting other people's comments, I noticed. Whenever someone asks a question, even when it has to do with the discussion, people downvote the comment without saying why. This is why I feel the downvote button should be removed altogether. People can get away with downvoting other people's comments and don't have to say why.
And your comment is interesting because it explains that commenters will explain it in a patronizing way. I've had something similar happen to me a few years ago: https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/32509641 (It's hard to find, but the responder was Cryopneuma, who added a passive-aggressive comment at the beginning).
People just forget that people make mistakes all the time, and it's perfectly normal to be confused by something. It could just be me, but I think people just get mad that everyone asks the same question in other discussions and have to answer it multiple times.