There is definitely something wrong with the recordkeeping on the words list
For example, it says that I last practiced the word "calda" 3 months ago and shows the strength at one bar, which is absurd. Same for "nuova", a word which for goshsakes I have known for decades as an owner of Campagnolo cycling components.
It seems to me like every time a word is presented, the "last practiced" date should be updated, and if it is completed successfully, the word strength should be at "full". Furthermore, failing every word presented should not be the result of answering a question incorrectly; for example, a word order mistake in my response itself should not weaken any words in the exercise. A word should be weakened only when the word itself is EXPLICITLY missed. It is obvious that the algorithm to infer word strength is extremely inaccurate in Duolingo.
One of the great annoyances of the Duolingo learning paradigm is that trying to strengthen "decayed" words that have not really decayed becomes an exercise in futility- the underlying work is actually not decayed at all, and you start to make mistakes as a result of trying to rush thru an annoying and pointless strengthening exercise. But the worst thing about this is that the word strength and the skill strengths become worthless as feedback and an aid to learning, because there is no connection between the feedback and reality.
Hey Mike. I'm also learning Italian and I have words such as "abbiamo" and "hai" that the Words list describe as last being practiced/used as long as 6 months ago (and they show as weak). We both know that those are frequently used words but for some reason the system fails to update some certain words. Oh yeah, for the word "nuova", it shows the last time I used it was 4 months ago. In my notes I see that I used it yesterday, the day before......
Among my words supposedly not reviewed for over a year in Portuguese (I regilded the entire thing about a month ago): ele, ela, um, uma (that'd be "he," "she," and "a/an" for those unfamiliar with Portuguese). There have been threads about this issue going back years. Obviously Duolingo has not deemed it worthy of fixing. Make of that what thou wilt.
In the spirit of misery loving company: