https://www.duolingo.com/Heike333145

Thoughts from the perspective of a new member

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Hello everybody,

I discovered Duolingo about a month ago because I wanted to learn Hebrew. Since then, I've been using the learning features a lot, and in recent weeks, I've also participated in the forums.

There are a few observations that I'd like to share as a relative newcomer. I know from other contexts that people who have been involved in something for an extended period of time may sometimes tend to think largely within the scope of „their own environment“, so I thought that the naivety that I bring along might be useful to some extent.

1. Voting

In general, I have come to like the idea of „supporting“ good contributions in a silent manner. Express consent in separate posts would clutter up the thread. The number indicated as „votes“ on each post can be interpreted as additional backup. This applies to the up-vote.

While reading in the forums, though, I also found down-votes applied to posts that were completely valid. Since people don't have to give reasons for their vote, I can only guess that the downvotes were due to mistakes in these posts (in one case, I then corrected the mistakes to the best of my knowledge in a „Reply“ post to that downvoted post).

I find this problematic, for three reasons:

a) The person who took the time to post a reply to a thread gets a negative feedback without getting the opportunity to see why they get this negative feedback. I find this unfair.

b) Other readers who might learn from this error and its correction, too, don't get this opportunity of seeing why an error happened, and how it would be correct. The incorrect post is left as it is, only at the end of the thread, with an unexplained negative rating.

c) The downvote (and actually, an upvote, too) disturbs the sequence of the discussion. I know that this is the wanted effect in the case of spammers or trolls, but in the case of valid posts, this is a serious impediment to learning, in my opinion, because a discussion thread as it evolves normally is a thought or several thoughts at once that develop over time.

If a post added in that „common thought process“ is moved up or down from its original position, it may become difficult to understand, and my impression is that the thought process as a whole is more difficult to understand for a reader than it would be without this shift in position.

So while I generally start to like the voting system, I still don't like the change of position that a post makes based on a vote. In order to reconcile this thought with the „anti-spammer/troll“ function of the vote, I'd suggest having two separate vote buttons:
- One for spammers/trolls, that would trigger the disappearance of the post as it does today, and
- a separate button for „content-based“ votes. Ideally, this would be equipped with a mandatory „Reason“ field in the case of downvotes.

2. The general structure of the forums

I have to admit that I still haven't figured out how to find „all“ new posts that would be of interest to me. It seems that threads are arranged in the forums according to the date of their original post, is that correct? I answered a question, then went to „New“ in the discussion stream, and had to scroll waaayyy down to find the thread again.

I find this problematic because in this way, other users who might correct me and who haven't participated in the discussion before don't get a chance to see my new post.

In my opinion, it would be better if the threads were arranged according to the date of their most recent contribution.

Thanks for reading and for correcting my impressions where they are wrong.

6/25/2017, 8:08:30 AM

13 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/Angela872862

Unti I read this discussion, I did not understand the up-voting and down-voting and have only used it once or twice. I down-voted recently: someone was asking to be given an ingot. No reason and a rude remark about not caring if we did or not. This may actually have been difficulty with English. I down-voted because I thought it was a bit 'off' to ask for an ingot anyway without valid reason. I have up-voted if I appreciated the content of the contributor. Is all this wrong?

9/26/2018, 9:15:46 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Heike333145
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No, downvoting requests for Lingots is not wrong because these reqests are spam according to the forum guidelines. (I can't insert a link because I am typing on my phone).

Everything you did is fine. :-)

9/26/2018, 9:19:56 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Aria487
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About voting, on your points:
1-
A) Your overall point is valid, but I know some users let people know why they were downvoted, and original poster can ask about it in a separate post. (See here as an example)
Many downvoted posts are actually duplicates or questions that have been asked too many times. The answer to these can be found in the help section, Usagiboy7's sticky post, Duolingo Wikia, Troubleshooting forums or using the search engine. (See the bottom of this comment for a mini guide on the search engine)

B) You can also find "What to post" at the sources I previously mentioned, see here for a list of common faux pas, for example, which can be found within Usagiboy7's sticky post.

C) I don't understand your point, how is this going to impair learning? You can find the comment that interests you, and see its follow-ups behind it. The main purpose this "sequence change" serves is it prevents duplicate posts or questions.

2- Yes, posts are arranged by "time posted". You should open the discussions in a new tab not to lose track of where you were. (Middle click with a mouse, choose it in the right-click menu, or long-tap and choose it) You can also browse one topic at a time: Look at the right side of the discussions, you'll find the topics you're subscribed to. Click on each of them and you'll see posts only within that topic.
Arranging by the most recent contribution would likely allow spam to take the top. For finding most relevant posts, pay attention to their votes, titles, and avatars or usernames. (For example for the last two, a post by an admin is worth reading, or it's jrikhal who posts Weekly Incubator Updates.)

Thanks for sharing your thoughts! :D

Edit: The "two separate buttons" idea doesn't make sense to me, it wouldn't lower the level of abuse,but potentially increase it. It's also close to a "Report" button, which I've discussed below. A simpler solution would be to implement a "Sort by date posted" button under each discussion, which we hope will be considered in a forums overhaul that's coming.

(minor edit; typo fixed)
(major edit: added above)

6/25/2017, 9:17:24 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/Heike333145
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Good evening,

I don't know if anyone can still see this thread with its -5 votes, but anyway I'd like to explain one more point, and then I'll be silent. I'm not the person who insists; I contribute my point of view, and if there's no need for it, no problem whatsoever.

But this one thing I'd like to explain a little further. In the following, I'd like to discuss only those posts that actually contribute to a serious language discussion.

You wrote, about the interruption of the sequence of posts by upvoting or downvoting:

I don't understand your point, how is this going to impair learning? You can find the comment that interests you, and see its follow-ups behind it.

This is true. But the point is that I'm not interested in individual comments and their directly associated responses alone, but also in the discussion process as a whole. Even if a post is not a hierarchically associated „direct reply“, it relates in some way to its predecessors.

For me, this is important information. What was the first thing that sprang to people's mind when they saw the question? How did they continue, where are the contradictions that had to be left open until the end? This, the organic process of the discussion, disappears when the sequence of the posts is changed.

Please note that I generally don't ask questions myself. I'm a reader of existing discussions because I think that „my“ questions have certainly already been dealt with in one way or another. So I focus on other people's questions, often from a long time ago.

And for me, as a reader that did not follow the discussion while it evolved, the change of the sequence of posts is a serious impediment, because I can no longer see the discussion as the process.

The main purpose this "sequence change" serves is it prevents duplicate posts or questions.

I'm aware of this, and that's why I think that the management of inappropriate content should be separated from the management of valid content. In my opinion, a single button cannot perform both tasks adequately.

Another, related, problem is the following:

In a discussion I see:

Contributor A: „I think you should write: „Correct sentence.“
Contributor B: „Shouldn't this be: „Correct sentence.“?

I stare at the two versions of the „Correct sentence“: They are absolutely identical. This is because Contributor A corrected the sentence in their original post. There's no more hint of the original mistake.

In my opinion, the mistake, together with its correction, would have provided important information. If I want to see „only correct sentences“, then I can read a book. The interesting thing in discussions is how knowledge evolves – the process. Here again, the process disappears. We only see the „perfected“ result. In my opinion, this is a loss.

This is what I wanted to say here.

All the best,
Heike

6/26/2017, 6:41:38 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Aria487
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Good morning!

Anyone who knows where the discussion is can see it, and moderators (and admins?) see hidden posts by default. There's no problem even if you were insisting, and don't let such things discourage you. This is, I'm afraid, normal. Posts that don't appeal to many people tend not to be upvoted, and instead get downvoted by the trolls and others who may assume it's not a rich post without looking at it. I'd upvoted the post, but that's all I can do. I also suggest you take a look at the Formatting Guide (which was also mentioned in that welcome-post of mine); better formatting makes the post all the more readable.

Your point is now very clear; but I'm afraid I still can't see it from your perspective. Let me first mention that I've been on Duolingo since December 23rd, 2015, I have the record of 695 unique discussions I've taken part in (I can upload the index if you wish), and since I didn't list all comments, the overall number would be greater. This is not at all to brag; but I want to say that I'm talking with a background, and like you, not out of stubbornness!

What was the first thing that sprang to people's mind when they saw the question? How did they continue, where are the contradictions that had to be left open until the end? This, the organic PROCESS of the discussion, disappears when the sequence of the posts is changed.

I don't understand the relationship you see between separate comments. If A's comment is first, B's comment after that, then F wants to comment, F probably reads A's and B's comment, true. But their effect on F's comment isn't very visible; how can one notice it? And, actually, what does it exactly show? Why would you want to see the first thing that came to people's mind?

To my experience, a popular discussions can be visited at two times:

  1. A max. three days after its creation
  2. Later than that

A person writes something; asks a question, makes a statement, gives an update, etc. People respond to the main post. In the first three days, the posts are being sorted.
If I am looking for an answer to the main question, I'll read the most upvoted comment. If that doesn't answer me, I'll go to the second helpful comment, if not... and that works; I've always had my question answered with this approach. (I also search for certain users' inputs. Some users are known; like scilling for Irish) Once I have my question answered, I go away, something I guess is not true about you. I don't read everything; as a learner, I find it more immersing if I go dive into the language process itself, not read a discussion about a single point of the whole language. The majority thinks this way, I think.
About comments' effect on each other; I think if they've been directly affected by a previous comment, they'll probably mention it. If they think an upvoted post is partially incorrect, they should reply to that post and correct it rather than sending their comment to the bottom.

I'm aware of this, and that's why I think that the management of inappropriate content should be separated from the management of valid content. In my opinion, a single button cannot perform both tasks adequately.

Duolingo mentions that downvote button is only for inappropriate content:

Use this for offensive posts, personal attacks, harmful content, and spam.

Unfortunately, people don't use it that way, and Duolingo isn't helping.

About the other remark;
You mean, Contributor A is the original poster, or do you mean they've just made an incorrect correct and after seeing Contributor B's correct correction, they edited their comment to make it look legit?
I think I agree with you. You seem to be wanting to get a hundred percent from the discussions, which is quite fine of course, but just different from my approach. Whenever on the internet I've seen, on any forum, people who keep their mistake visible after correcting it are rare. Even if Duolingo added a "Reason for editing" box, it wouldn't work the way you like it; you'd still see the perfected result. People think it'd make them look bad; which isn't right considering we're all here to learn. This isn't a problem with Duolingo, but with the people. And -in my opinion- it's not a great loss either; it's just one single mistake that you can avoid altogether and not even notice it!

I apologize if I haven't been very relevant. (And feel free to reply.) I'd also like to repeat that don't let me or anyone discourage you from sharing your opinion, I know I won't. (I've been downvoted myself, you see) Don't stay silent!

Warmest regards!

6/27/2017, 6:15:20 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/Heike333145
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Thank you very much for your thoughtful reply, Aria! I really appreciate your efforts.

But I think we should close the discussion here. There will be other opportunities ...

I also suggest you take a look at the Formatting Guide (which was also mentioned in that welcome-post of mine); better formatting makes the post all the more readable.

I actually don't know why you say this ... ;-) *)

Many thanks and warm regards,
Heike

*) BTW, I'd like to point out that such a long edit time frame might be dangerous. You can see that I edited all my posts within this thread.

I'm a member in another forum (not language-related), and there, a well-respected member got frustrated at some point for some reason. Before leaving the forum, she eliminated all content from her approx. 6000 posts, which made many threads practically unreadable.

Translated into our environment: There would be a member with many highly upvoted posts, and in a similar situation this member would decide to replace the upvoted content with something entirely different.

That forum then introduced an edit time-slot of 48 hours. Might be worth a consideration, perhaps ...

6/27/2017, 4:33:29 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Aria487
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Well, you're welcome, I'm enjoying this!

As you wish.

Your OP... oh! O_O Nevermind, I must've mixed in a reply to someone else! :D

No no, thank you, you certainly wield a different viewpoint, and talking to you helps me extend my own view, not to mention you're good at conversing.

That was some dedicated user! I agree with you, but not with 48 hours. Perhaps a week, and with exceptions. Like reference posts (like that Hyllning's guide for example) should be allowed to be edited.
Also, the system not at all mentioning that the post was edited can be frustrating. (Or not! :D) If I get the slightest hint that someone is a troll, I'll take a screenshot before replying to the comment!
Users have been suggesting improvements to the forums for quite a while now, and the CEO announced (after removing the Activity, which was something like Twitter, you could others' accomplishments and comment on them) that they're working on improvements.

It's been great meeting you. If I could help in any way, don't hesitate to call on me.

6/28/2017, 6:42:19 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/Heike333145
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Thanks for your reply!

The "downvoted posts" I wrote about are valid, helpful replies to language questions. In these cases, I find downvoting problematic, not in the cases of questions that have been answered before.

I felt hesitant about linking to an example, but I think this makes it clearer why I'm worried: (Link deleted)

1) There was a helpful post.
2) This post was downvoted (now no longer visible because positive votes have been added in the meantime; when I saw the post, it had "-1")
3) They then asked for the reason for this downvoting (this post is now at the very bottom of the thread and doesn't make any sense at all, as the situation has evolved)
4) I gave them explanations to the best of my knowledge, and the discussion continued.

This is a case where I find downvoting problematic.

6/25/2017, 9:31:52 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/Aria487
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I'm not saying there aren't uncaring people or trolls about; in fact, the situation can get dire at times. Downvoting is the easiest solution to spam-fighting on users' side. An alternative would be to implement a "Report" button, which can give the moderators a real headache. The best way is to prevent spam from being created. Last I checked, new users don't even see the Guidelines, how can we expect them to abide by them?!

I have seen many instances where someone has been unfairly downvoted/upvoted, but removing the voting buttons for this particular reason doesn't seem logical at the moment, as I mentioned. About the comment you pointed out, however, [removed!]

6/25/2017, 1:40:40 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Heike333145
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I am immensely sorry. I definitely, certainly did not want to expose a user and have their abilities discussed here.

Please delete this entire thread. I can't do it. I won't post in this section again.

6/25/2017, 1:55:22 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Aria487
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No, no, wait, don't delete anything. Just edit your comment and remove that part, and I'll edit mine. Hit the "Edit" button behind your comment, and delete the stuff you wish.

I've already edited mine.

6/25/2017, 1:56:42 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Heike333145
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Thanks. I've reversed all my negative votings, too (I can downvote myself, an interesting observation. ;-).

6/25/2017, 2:00:19 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Aria487
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@Heike333145 in reply to "Thanks. I've reversed...":
You're very welcome. I've downvoted myself several times, as I thought some other comment should be above mine! :D

6/25/2017, 2:02:09 PM
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