Discussion section needs a FAQ

People seem to ignore "Top all time" discussions as well as the Search option. This results in their posting the same questions over and over again.

Duolingo team, what do you think of some FAQ? A link to this FAQ may be added to New Discussion form, like: Please check our FAQ before starting a new discussion.

The most popular questions are:

  • What are next languages? / Will language X be added?

  • What level will I achieve by the end of the course? / Will I be fluent? / Will I be able to read books or watch movies in the target language?

  • How much time does it usually take to complete the course?

March 14, 2013


A few comments from someone spending a lot of time on the Discussion section:

On the French learning section, there are loads of mistakes that Duolingo cannot fix, simply because they are reported in the French/Discussion/Sentences or New sections and it seems the team hardly ever reads what is going on there.

The most repeated scenario is that a learner posts a question which evidences the fact that Duo has not given all possible solutions, or wrong solutions. So I answer, correct mistakes, give missing solutions, and that is it. Then the day after, one week later, 2 months later, the same question comes up, not all possible solutions have been added, corrections have not been made. So I do it again. I am not referring only to "old" sentences (the ones I got when I worked on my tree) but also to new sentences, which is even worse. Do I have to take note of every single mistake, then report it in the form of an email for the Duo team to be aware that 6 months later the voice still pronounces "chemiss" instead of "chemiz"? (**) That there are 3 correct ways of asking questions in French? That the English continuous present has 2 possible translations in French? That hundreds of homophones are not accepted as correct? How many times will I read: "it is confusing" and "it is unfair" (I mean when it is legitimate to say so...)?

(**) Answering questions about French pronounciation is a nightmare... The French audio needs to be very seriously reviewed, I repeat: very seriously.

Actually, I have copied some of my own "lessons" on a Word document, containing a number of basic explanations that I regularly need, to answer endlessly repeated questions. I cut and paste, adapt to the given sentence. But tools are missing (phonetics, more flexibility in word processing, using my own links within the Duo system...).

At last there are plenty of questions I do not answer to because they are about English rather than French. I suspect 75% of French learners to not be English speakers. And as I already reported it, English speakers tend to complain a lot, but not to answer/explain/correct as much.

Some feed-back on the above would be most welcome! Thank you.

March 16, 2013

Sitesurf is the best! Thanks again for the great help you always offer around here.

March 18, 2013

I agree. Sitesurf's help is greatly appreciated.

March 18, 2013


April 8, 2015

You have help me several times with your answers to questions. My woman, who is French born and raised, rolls her eyes when she listens to the robo voice. I'm tying to learn her and your language, so thank you!

March 18, 2013

I was thinking myself of starting a post on similar vein, so I will write it here.

I am not sure whether FAQ is the solution or not, although it might well be part of the solution, to solve the most common answers on those topics or similar.

However I am talking more of the "normal" comments.

People is not using the search function. Why? well, some do not care and just ask, fair enough. But the search function is not working very well. Why? because if you have a faint idea of the topic and browse using one or two words you will get a huge list that you cannot sort, you can't refine the search and, due to the fact that there are actually many sentences with those words, it's impossible to sort out the wheat from the chaff. That if frustrating, so I do understand people just posting.

Another reason is that, as people goes on their work, they just write on that very sentence, but miss all the related threads with that sentence. If you are doing sentences, probably you don't feel like forum diving, therefore, another post.

I have tried to link some answers, when I remember that I've answered the very same question a couple of times, but of course that's a lot of linking and I really don't feel like it.

I find somewhat odd that a site which is based on the support of the users, does not provide the tools for "the community" to be sustainable. I am answering and helping, but I won't do it for much longer and in four months, nobody will see any of that.

My point you have an environment and a selection of sentences, but people is not getting support really, because the answer system is not structured and common. For instance there are idioms mixed with literal translations. For a mid learner that is all right, once somebody tells them: it's and idiom and means blablbla, for a newbie it's just confusing.

Which is an entirely new problem by itself. Is it verbatim translations? would you use "bad english" to illustrate how it is said in another language so the native user picks it up? is it the meaning? I have seen examples of all three and that's confusing people.

in addition there is the add of localisms. This might be my personal position and a lot of people might disagree, but this is what I am saying: why?, why, when learning a language, at low level, you teach localisms so you force people into that dialect? This has brought up people saying: I want to learn this or that dialect, when they are far from grasping even the basis of the language.

I have read " I want to learn traditional Spanish". I would like to know what is that supposed to be. Spanish from 16th Century? There are many MANY accents and dialects in Spanish, not circumscribed to countries, but to areas of 1Million inhabitants and the language changes, boy it does!. Why not teaching a proper, wide language, with examples from the main streams and let everybody be happy? Sure you need to learn more words but... what are you here for, anyway?

March 15, 2013

Hi everyone- thanks for all the thoughtful suggestions. An FAQ, more guidelines, help, and a more organized forum are on the way. Please continue to let us know your suggestions! Much appreciated. Thank you.

March 14, 2013

I'm very pleased to hear that. I've often lost track of a thread and this should make a big difference.

March 15, 2013

This reaction will probably sink away along with the other discussions, but I still expect that it will reach the right people.

Instead of blaming things on people who start discussions without ever partaking in other topics, I’m going to turn the question around. Are we (users who check the Discussion section regularly) expecting too much? My reason for asking this is not to blame anybody, but I am seriously wondering if the Discussion section is what we expect it to be. What is the actual function of the Discussion section and why is it important to have discussions? If our discussions are meant to produce something substantial, why do they sink away with the stream? The Discussion section’s current design seems to be better suited for idle chit-chat, which is great for practising languages, and less for discussions on certain intricacies of the website.

I agree that Duolingo needs a FAQ or a news page, because many users are left in the dark about what is going on. Searching for an answer doesn’t help much. For instance, people with a language request may find loads of similar discussions, but very few answers. It is great to hear that staff members are working on changes, but it would be nice to have some kind of approximation of when things will change. Some people are satisfied with one response, but others feel that they need to repeat their point when things don’t improve fast enough. Even if it is impossible to give an estimation of how long it will take, it would at least help if people had a news page to see what things are on the way. However, I feel that the Discussions section as a whole needs to be restructured to be better suited to the ways in which people would like to use it. Have a stream for people who want to practice their language and have other sections where people can ask for help or post feedback on the website.

The fact that the button on the left was changed from “Feedback” to “Support” seems to suggest that that’s where people need to go if they want actual help. The name “Discussion” might have misled many people into thinking that they could have actual discussions and have direct influence on the site. In reality the Discussion section might be more like a feedback stew from which the developers can get feedback without being obliged to address all the issues raised. Like said before, I’m not going to blame anyone. It’s good that Duolingo is trying something new and it is hard to predict how things will work out. I’m sure that they can change the Discussion section into something better, but that is something that will take time.

My reason for posting this is to make people aware that the Discussion section, in its current incarnation, isn’t very well suited for actual discussion. Instead of continuing complaining, we might as well accept it for what it currently is and entrust our feedback to the stream without worrying too much about whether we are heard or not. Another option would be to start using the stream for language exchange as that could shift the focus from being heard by developers to having interactions with other users. Even if past discussions didn’t lead to much, I still enjoyed having discussions with other users. Thanks to the people who liven up the Discussions section :)

March 15, 2013

I think you've got a very good point there. Perhaps the forum is not intended as an exchange of doubts / explanations. I believe that, in that case, Duolingo staff might be a bit overwhelmed seeing the exponential thread growth. (I am!).

I also agree on the "guidelines" FAQ, every interactive site can do with a bit of explanation, and certainly, the characteristics of Duolingo, may well improve with it. It might not necessarily be a traditional section, but a small guide when you start. Call it "demo". I guess many users until a couple of months or so where looking for the "Duolingo experience" whilst now it's growing and becoming popular, so people is just joining (not complaining, just something I noticed)

I still think that some post have great value. I've seen explanations and links which are absolutely great and allowed me to really make progress and it's a shame that this gets lost. However it is a fact that the forum does not provide tools to sort it.

I would be very glad if some Duolingo staff would join this thread in a "discussion" mode or at least explanatory vein.

My reading is that this site is greatly intended to have a user interaction, however, though this interaction is possible, it is not well suited for actual "discussions", so users cannot support each other, meaning helping each other. It feels odd, but certainly is work in progress. Due to that interactiveness, probably we get carried out some times, even "demanding", thinking along the lines of "come on, I am ready to participate, but you are not giving as much as i'd want to"... typical customer :)

I would also subscribe your last few sentences ;)

March 19, 2013

I agree; I hope the developers see this.

March 14, 2013

How about a discussion number - if you want to refer to a specific discussion comment, just key in the number and it will bring it up . Would stop herds of duplicates as well as make it easier to find comments from more than a few days ago.

March 14, 2013

The truth is that the search function doesn't work at the top, many people post a question and then they don't even see if anybody replies. We are all used to facebook and other forums, where you can see from the site if there are new comments on a thread. I deactivated all my email notifications, because I wouldn't check them anyway.

This forum should be better organised. Active participation should be easier. Then people would realise better how everything works and we would have less duplicates.

Another suggestion I already gave is to give the permission to post a new thread only after you have given at least a certain amount of comments. It means that you have already checked a bit the forum and understood how it works.

March 14, 2013

to give the permission to post a new thread only after you have given at least a certain amount of comments

It would result in tons of meaningless comments. No way.

March 14, 2013

Or people who need real help wouldn't be able to ask their question.

March 14, 2013

Come on, it was an idea. ;)

Anyway, many people NEVER comment, only open new threads. That's probably worse, in my opinion.

March 14, 2013

The most of the forums I have visited have a section like "Please read here before posting"

That would be useful!

March 14, 2013
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