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Health and Gems system: delete your iOS app

Dear all,

In order to show Duolingo how much we disagree with their new Health and Gems system, delete the app from your iDevice. You can still access Duolingo (with the Lingot system) through the browser so you do not restringe yourself from practicing.

I hope if sufficient people act this way, Duolingo will understand this was a bad move.



June 1, 2017



Excellent Idea! I'm going to delete it now.


Can't do that because my focus is the japanese course.


Warning : Unpopular opinion incoming

I am actually quite sad that they said they do not have plans to bring the Health and Gems system to PC. I haven't had the chance to use it because I do not own and iOS device, but I read the FAQ and the general idea of it seems to be really good. I often catch myself wanting to reach the next checkpoint and just rushing a bit too quickly through the tree. I think it would be nice to have some motivation to keep the older skills golden and practice them other than just the aesthetics of golden skills.

About your post - Duolingo has millions of users and it's one of the best websites to teach languages. I highly doubt that they'd feel it even if thousands of people delete their app at once. They have also mentioned numerous times that according to their statistics the health and gems system does perform better when it comes to learning languages, so I think people should be just more open to it.

When I first found this website I was mind-blown by the fact that such thing is offered for free. My general observation is that the staff really does try to make Duolingo better all the time, but that requires a lot of experimentation (hence the many A/B group tests). And while there are some changes I would personally like to see, I think we should just leave it to the admins to test and see what works. The best thing we can do is give feedback - no need for 'strikes' like these. After all, you're probably here to learn a language - you're only obstructing your own progress by deleting the app.


I am not as I am using the browser. The system is flawed considering how difficult it is now to progress even on a single lesson. Basically you can only do 5 mistakes per day across all languages you are learning. If you want to be able to do 5 more mistakes then you need to go back and do 5 lessons once again. Oh and in case you do 5 mistakes in a lesson, for instance due to the difficulty of listening comprehension, all your progress is lost. So you either perfect your listening skills in a difficult language like Danish or your progress is stuck using the app.


Yeah, I can imagine why that can be annoying. It sounded decent to me on paper, though. Perhaps that's because I haven't tested it myself.


If the errors were identified as associated with new vs. old material, I think that would make all the difference in the world. Crazy as it probably seems to someone who doesn't have the system, there is no distinction made between errors tied to material you've actually seen before and errors occurring due to it being the first time you're seeing a new vocab entry or grammatical point.

And if the review to get health back then actually targeted the units where the material on which you made a mistake was covered, that definitely could seem to make the whole thing a positive development! However, as it is, it just seems to be the old whole-tree strengthen skills with all the flaws it's always had just wrapped up in new packaging.


Sure, it can be improved if each health bar could be set to more than a single error.


Or you buy gems for cash to restore the health bar


This is the whole point: Freemium Pay to Play. Ugh.


how do you know this?


I was forced into it today and I tested. Couldn't finish a new lesson.


ah, sometimes it is impossible no matter how hard you try.


It says a lot about this update when the one person on a thread who appears optimistic about it hasn't even tried it out yet...


If duo really believed that forcing you to wait or review was beneficial they wouldn't be offering to let you buy gems to get around the requirement.


They have explained that they need to monetize certain things since the original idea of the website didn't work out. I doubt they're doing this specifically for the money - they probably have a higher income from ads.


Exactly! It's just a big money making scam.


Thank you for expressing a contrary opinion. I would ask you, as you go about your lessons, to keep a count of how long it takes you to make five "errors" (certainly including things that aren't errors on your part but are answers not yet added), at which point you would be locked out even starting from full strength, and unable to complete your lesson. I think you might be shocked. I know I was.

In any case you wouldn't have the "chance" to use the system on iOS for your seeming main language, anyway, since very thankfully (maybe Romanian is in halfway ok shape already, but some courses in beta are definitely not) it's been disabled for courses in beta.

To the extent I believe their statements about the health system increasing usage (and I'm sorry to say I have my doubts since it was pledged that the new website version would be identical to the old except faster, when in fact useful functionality seems to have been eliminated), I simply have to assume that effect is being driven by people using the app for maybe 2.5 weeks instead of 1.75, or whatever the actual median for a new user is (for reference four people have signed up for Duolingo based more or less on my talking about it; only one stuck with it for more than a couple weeks). Whether any effect really present there carries over to users of longer tenure seems a separate question. A user at level 19, say, who sprints ahead for a bit I certainly hope will not then be dissuaded from continuing just because the last several skills take a bit more reviewing than normal to actually pin down!

In fact, I would argue Duolingo actually encourages such sprinting because review seems to grow so much more useful in trees with all the skills complete, to wit much more translation into the target language, which if Duolingo really wanted to boost learning outcomes, they would give at least users who have reached a certain level the option of choosing.


If it really is as bad as people describe it then I probably have to agree with you. I would definitely not be able to learn Romanian with such system, simply because there are too many inaccuracies because of the Beta. I just assumed that courses that are out of beta wouldn't have such problems. I still think if they play around with it they can make it a good system - adding some motivation to practice older skills other than just making them gold is a needed thing, in my opinion. However, all the comments have convinced me that the current health system is most likely not good - after all, I already said that I haven't tested it.


Actually one of the things that most surprises me about Duolingo is how motivating keeping things gold seems to be to people. Granted, there is a systematic bias just considering threads that show up in forums, but dozens and dozens of threads any given month it seems testify to the fact that people can get quite out of joint about not being able to keep their skills gold!

It is interesting to consider health as a clumsy (for now at least) patch laid on top of a less than well-tuned SRS system. Funny the pendulum has swung so far so fast from artificially boosting skill strength for many in an A/B test that ended a month or two ago to implementing a huge system change to cause a great deal more reviewing!


I think that the health system is very good, and I agree with your contrary opinion. I guess personally I tend to binge duolingo in sessions of more than just one lesson at a time, and if it was my first time learning a language, maybe I would have some troubles. But going through french with it (i started the french course right around when my phone turned to health and gems) I really haven't had too many issues. I have been frustrated a few times, sure, but there are a couple of things that I really had to drill into my head before I continued, and this system encourages that. I like it, and it seems I'm the only one, but I really do like it.


Enchom, like you, I'm amazed that we have gotten to use Duolingo for free. I actually decided to do Duolingo Plus for a month to support Duolingo because they have given me so much.

We see in the tech industry that if a company wants to survive it must change and improve. This doesn't mean that every change is going to be 100% the best at all times, but companies now must innovate or die basically. I believe that even if there are some improvements to be made with Health, I trust that it Duolingo will improve it over time.

Change is good. Staleness is death. Reviewing Spanish isn't a punishment--it's a necessity.


I agree, it kinda sucks to see all these people whining about a free resource, you guys can still use it for free it just has more options to pay for things, to gain back health you dont actually have to pay anything just re do a few skills. I think people don't realise how much of a privilage it is to have access to such an amazing resourse, i mean we can learn languages ( such a a vital skill for FREE) i know people who would kill for such an opportunity and yet there are people whining becuase they dont like an update. it makes me sad to see how people dont really know how much of a privilage access to things like this is :/


The problem isn't that a bunch of people are spoiled and privileged whiners; everyone here is grateful for Duolingo and probably loves the app so far. The problem is that many/most of them are of the opinion that the app provides an objectively worse learning experience after this update.



"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.


I agree with Enchom. It's an amazing resource given FOR FREE to a very large base and that being said, some hiccups are to be expected. I was forced to redo some older lessons I didn't even realize I needed to redo and I'm glad I was. The goal here is to learn a language. This takes time, practice and dedication. This new system ensures at least the first two; the latter is up to you. I wish that instead of booting you from a lesson, they used the hearts as a grading system instead. I'm okay with not being able to progress until I've proven myself where I'm at; that's the natural order of language learning. I do have a problem with being evicted mid-lesson; I think that is a bit too harsh and makes the new system more discouraging than helpful. Making mistakes is part of learning and we should be allowed to make them penalty-free. Also, like another user mentioned, I'm currently studying Japanese. No way I'm deleting the app and losing all access to a free language course over what amounts to a minor inconvenience.


So when they switched to gems, did they convert your existing lingots to gems? If so, what was the conversion rate? I have an Android App so the scourge of gems is luckily delayed but I guess it will come eventually. Your reply will be much appreciated . I want to be prepared for the Invasion of the GEMS.


Yes. The best take on the conversion formula I've seen is round down to nearest fifty, add five hundred. Prices for things with gems are vastly increased: streak freeze is 600.


I don't find the update horrible, I just think people should have the right to choose if they use the health option or no. I personally wouldn't choose it, since I usually review topics on my own. When I take a lesson, I usually take notes, so if I'm learning say, "Verbs Past", and I have to stop that lesson just to review something else, it would totally break my flow. Now I can see why some people would chose to use it, but I sure wouldn't.

About the gems, if people don't lose "buying power" from the change, I couldn't care less for a face value/icon swap on lingots (tho they work fine already, so idk why do it).

Considering I use mostly the Web page, I'm mostly OK since it won't affect me, but I hope they give this some better thought.


Of course here will be no choice. Duolingo is a one size fits (or doesn't) all operation. If you're a serious, dedicated learner, you have to work around its strictures and implicit recommendations. Nothing new about that. It's clearly targeting a much larger audience, and rightfully so.

There is no equivalent buying power. At the conversion rate for me, buying power was reduced to 1/60th of its prior level. The change is certainly to aid monetization and substantially reduce lingering buying power in the system so that even those with huge piles of lingots are not immune.


Yeah and that is really sad to be honest, and about buying power, that is absolute shit.

I believe most people who use this website wouldn't mind at all seeing some ads if that meant the content could stay free (the ones who don't want to see them already use adblock anyway), but ❤❤❤❤❤❤❤ hell, if they decide to go that route they'll have to face the consequences.


Really? I actually quite like the health and gems update. They're very generous with the gems, just like before with the lingots, and the health is something that we all needed. I strongly like what duolingo did


Thank you for providing a contrary view at least based on actual experience (not that I understand it, the idea that "we all needed" it being clearly unsustainable). "Very generous" is a startling characterization regarding the rewarding of gems, however. How many are awarded for streaks and leveling up? It would have be a very large number indeed to come close to making up for the great loss in purchasing power (at least in terms of streak freezes, the only good available for a price comparison) incurred by, given my current understanding of the conversion formula, essentially everyone.


When I said "very generous," perhaps I was being a little hyperbolic. To clarify, I meant that when compared to other free-to-play models that I have experienced, the gems in this system are much more easy to obtain

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