1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Duolingo
  4. >
  5. The purpose of down voting?


The purpose of down voting?

  • 1938

Exactly, what is the purpose of the function Down vote, i e the arrow pointing downwards in the forum? Up vote I understand and use when I agree, like something or if it is important and should be lifted in the discussion.

But the Down vote? I understand the purpose of it when somebody wrote something totally irrelevant or being offensive. But more and more I see a minus in front of the number on posts that are relevant. I can just assume then that people are down voting just because they think it is funny, being childish or just because they can. If so, what is the purpose then?

Would it not be better with a "Report spam" function?

EDIT: maybe it should just be a "Report" function?

July 10, 2017



I don't downvote threads but I usually downvote answers which are obviously wrong and upvote what I consider is the best answer. The point of it is merely to make the best answers stand out for people who can't assess their relevance (mainly the person who asked the question).

I really think it is a useful tool on any collaborative platform as bad advice can be even more harmful than no advice at all when you are learning.

  • 1938

I understand that function and I think that I on occasion have done the same. But the problem is that there are a lot of childish behaviours here lately. I am not talking about where people are having fun with a translated sentence - I love those! - but the ones that is just ... nothing. Just replies that do not add anything. And all the down votes just because you can do it.

How do we get people to stop doing that?


Duolingo has 170 million users! Various percentages of those users will downvote posts for a variety of reasons including those that may appear childish to you. As others have mentioned, there are also a lot of actual children using Duolingo. There are 100,000 teacher accounts, so if you multiply that by 25, you get 2.5 million children.

How can we stop childish behavior? We can't. In the meantime:

  • If I see someone unfairly down-voted (in my opinion), then I will upvote to compensate. I've seen many others do the same.

  • If a user violates the guidelines (usually offensive material or excessive SPAM that has nothing to do with languages), then I report it to abuse@duolingo.com.

  • I'm more likely to upvote good answers than downvote incorrect or irrelevant answers. However, like Fayke, I sometimes will do both to bring what I consider to be the best answer up to the top.

I don't see any good reason to report people just because they are confused or acting like children (especially if they are children).

  • 1938

But has it not gotten worse since the school accounts started? I have been on Duo for 522 days now (lost my streak on the 10th day ...) and in my opinion it has gotten worse.

Is that OK for all of us others who want to have stimulating and funny conversations where languages are at the core?

I know, it is free, I have nothing to say in the matter really, but still ...

I am not saying that I would report-report-report. I think that I have done so twice in my life since I started using forums. I just want the down vote option gone since it is misused.


Duolingo for Schools started over 2 years ago and I started soon after that, so I have no basis for comparison. Spam and other issues on the forums are probably worse certain times of day and times of year. However, I just try to avoid that which I don't like and focus on the parts are stimulating and interesting to me. In any case, some of the kids on here are very dedicated and I have no issue with them at all.


Maybe they could create a special Schools forum for kids to keep all their keyboard vomit. They could offer them a lingot a day if they agree to have read-only access to the regular forums and full participatory access only to the special "School" forums. I think it would work, these kids LOVE lingots.

(I know this isn't realistic, I'm kidding of course. Ok, half kidding).


> Would it not be better with a "Report spam" function?

The presence of such a button assumes that someone should view these reports.


There are LOTS of children on this site, and many of them act childishly, just as you say. The purpose of the downvote is also just as you say, to express disagreement or disapproval.

  • 1938

So should the children that are forced to be here (I assume since it is used in school) have access to the forum? To read and learn, yes, but to interact?


My understanding is that it's up to the teacher whether the kids in their class have access to the forum or not. However, there is nothing to stop a child (or anyone else) from opening another independent account and doing whatever they want.


As the song says, "Why can't the be like we were, perfect in every way?" ;) ("Bye bye Birdie," 1960, or thereabouts).


I mean I get your point. A lot of people pointlessly downvote a lot of stuff on here. For example, yesterday I saw somebody posting some very useful things for Albanian and a few other languages, but he was continously getting downvoted for no reason.

  • 1938

Well, just look at this post. This just proves my point. It has now -2 and one of my replies have -1. It would be interesting to know why.


Somebody might be doing it just to piss you off, because you made this post. I wouldn't put it past people.

  • 1938

I was actually expecting it! :D


I've seen some pretty offensive stuff around here.


There's something for everyone when scrolling through the 'Discussion' tab and while in general terms I prefer well-written, well-considered and thoughtful posts, there are occasions that I look at other, shorter, more 'single-use' style posts, perhaps those that focus on particular aspects of a language usage; there's many helpful and proficient people on Duo and they don't get anywhere near enough thanks.

Nevertheless, even on these 'non-spammy' posts too, there is usually a user or three looking to slack-jaw or sass people, normally the less erudite among us and for that the down vote is extremely appropriate to keep helpful and constructive threads free and clear of impolite, narcissistic, worthless, off-topic or vainglorious replies.

On the better threads, you'll see that most of the comments tend to add value to the conversation and, well, as this comment doesn't, feel free to down vote it ;)

  • 1938

Of course, I prefer well-written texts as well but then again it is not so easy when it is not your first language. I cannot write with the same degree of nuance in English as I can in Swedish, for example.

But that is to be expected and that is no problem. We all learn and Duo has an excellent forum where we can share our knowledge. But I really do not like it when I see comment after comment with just stupidities that do not belong here. It takes away the focus and is time consuming.


But I really do not like it when I see comment after comment with just stupidities that do not belong here. It takes away the focus and is time consuming.

I believe herein you well answer the title question :)

I've been answering questions in the English from Spanish forum of late. The first post in a thread makes it appear in the Sentences tab to allow those in a position to do so to answer questions. My estimate is that about 1 in 4 or 5 newly-minted threads contains a legitimate question. The rest are against in one way or another the clear injunctions that used to appear before making any forum post (not that things were any different when that big red box used to appear). Perhaps a fifth of them just say something akin to "first post," another fifth random spam: inane strings of characters and whatnot, another fifth "the sound doesn't work," the fourth fifth "I gave the right answer but it wasn't accepted" (never, of course, saying what answer it was they gave). I think it would be far from out of bounds to downvote all of these, in the hopes that actual questions, when eventually asked, will be at the top. In practice, I downvote the first two quarters.

These posts, incidentally, wind up devaluing the forum greatly for future users. I only venture a reply if I reckon that I am capable of answering virtually any question anyone could ask about the sentence, since I know that I'll get subscribed to that discussion, will probably be the only qualified English speaker with any presence there, and the chance of the course contributors showing up is negligible. But nobody replies to the 4/5 that are junk, so those threads duly get buried and anyone who asks a legitimate question down the line doesn't have much chance of a qualified answer, whereas those users who voluntarily answer forum questions in the Sentences tab are usually willing to go on doing so for future (non-repeat at least) questions.

  • 1938

OK, I understand that and I agree. But still ... Since some are using the down voting in a bad way it feels like it is not working as it should. Or it is just people who are not working as they should, i.e. practicing Duo.

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