https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7

XP Competition Rule Update: regarding lingot collection

Hi everyone,

Right now is a bad time to ask people to donate lingots to your XP competitions because the lingots are buggy. I recommend not doing it. See the post below for a full explanation.

Existing rule: Only one XP competition post per calendar month, per user. Other users may not make a post for your competition either.

Additionally, Mods are now monitoring XP Competitions for scripting.

Update time: (This rule is in addition to the existing rule.) We've had a spate of people creating XP competitions, asking for donations in order to boost the prizes for the winners. Then, those people have not given out the promised prizes. In order to protect the integrity of these contests, there are some new rules in place:

If you request lingot donations (you are already not allowed to require them), you must either deliver the winners the amount promised, or:

  • If the contest ends up having no winners for whatever reason, you must distribute lingots equally among discussion participants.

  • If people only donated 10 lingots but there are 20 discussion participants, you must distribute 20 lingots, 1 to each participant. Why? Because there is no way to verify who donated what amount of lingots, even if someone says "I donated 10 lingots).

If you leave the contest without donating lingots, your account will be banned. (Mods and staff have a way to see if the creator of the discussion deletes their own post.)

How to protect your account from being banned when running an XP competition:

  • Distribute the lingots as promised.

  • The surest way, however, is just not requesting people donate lingots to your XP competitions. If you want to give out prizes, use lingots you already have.

If people donate lingots without you asking them to do so, you can do whatever you want with those lingots, whether that is to keep them or add them as a nice bonus to whatever prizes you've promised people.

The following are suggestions, not rules:

  • Don't allow people to gain XP by challenging part or all of their course. If people can challenge a course for a language they already know, it discourages people from joining who want to participate for motivating them to learn a language they don't already know.

  • Build accountability: If you run a competition every month, link to last month's competition in the bottom of your new one. Then, people can see that you ran an honest competition the month before.

November 6, 2017

23 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/Jersebas

If people only donated 10 lingots but there are 20 discussion participants, you must distribute 20 lingots, 1 to each participant. Why? Because there is no way to verify who donated what amount of lingots, even if someone says "I donated 10 lingots).

Isn't it currently impossible to see what amount of lingots has been donated in the first place? I get the impression that after the forum "update" donations (esp. large ones) don't show correctly?!? (the same as post voting and reaction count). Am I correct in this assumption and if so, is something being done about this?

November 6, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7

Excellent question Jersebas, thank you for asking it! I'm sure others will be wondering as well.

Fixing the lingot bugs is on staff's to do list. They haven't got it straightened out yet.

Hosts who request lingot donations are only responsible for distributing the number of donated lingots visible. That is the only number moderators can see and measure for any sort of enforcing accountability. Not ideal, but it's what we have to work with right now.

In light of that, both hosts and those donating lingots need to take these details into account when making decisions about what they do with lingots: There is always the risk that a host will lose internet connection for a long enough time that their account is banned for not following through. There is always the risk that after participants donate lingots, the host will be banned and all donated lingots lost. (Duolingo will not refund donated lingots.)

I recommend hosts not ask for donations in general. People who don't have enough lingots for prizes should consider only running prizeless XP compeitions. Leave the prize competitions to those who already have excess lingots to give out. Eventually, everyone is rolling in more lingots than they can figure out what to do with. That's the best time to find more ways to give them away that encourage learning. :)

November 6, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/jrikhal

> is something being done about this?

Staff is on it. Things are already working a little better, but still far from as correctly as before the Maintenance. For instance, for lingots, if you wait for the counter to update after each click before doing the next click, approx. 80%(°) of the lingot will arrive to the receiver while few days ago this rate was about 15-20%(°) either waiting between each click or not.

(°)based on my own tests.

November 6, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7

Thank you for bringing this information here!

November 6, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Jersebas

Yup, thanks to you both for answering my question! It's very much appreciated! =) I realise it's not purely an "XP contest question" but as it is relevant to them I'd thought I'd ask. All these technical forum issues lately are weird, and I'm glad to hear staff is on them, even though that says nothing about how long it'll take hehe =)

I must say I share Dcarl1's frustrations about the forum (elsewhere in the comments) and staff's communication style (although much improved lately!), but understand they have only limited resources and since the forum is only used by a small fraction of their users the priority may be lower. Usagiboy7's post about their experience at Duo HQ is really valuable in reminding us of their hard work, for which we can only be grateful! =)

So... it's time for me now to focus on the important thing again, learning some (free) lessons! =) Thanks again!

November 6, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/garpike

Why? Because there is no way to verify who donated what amount of lingots, even if someone says "I donated 10 lingots).

How are you going to tell if contest-holders are following these rules, then? Particularly as the lingot display on posts in faulty, anyone can claim to have given or not received a prize, and so it becomes a case of one user's word against another's. Unless moderators have the tools to view data on user-to-user lingot transfers, this seems like shaky grounds for banning accounts.

November 6, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7

Hi garpike,

You're right. It is not ideal. We are doing everything that we can to be super careful about this. Only two bans have been delivered in the last two months over this issue, and I did everything I could to try to contact them for a couple of weeks each. They didn't respond to direct messages or messages I wrote in their contests. Meanwhile, other hosts have been successfully contacted and the situations resolved. So far, lingots donated have not been a huge amount. The highest amount needing to be returned was 7 per participant, the rest have been between 1 and 2 lingots each. The 7 lingots each situation saw a kind third party person donate those to me. I distributed the lingots one per user, waiting for the latency issue to resolve, then donated another one to each user. I repeated this until the lingots had been distributed evenly.

Again, people are not required to ask for donations nor to give donations to XP competitions. I would encourage them not to at this time. But, while staff deliberates whether or not to ban requesting lingot donations for these competitions, people are still allowed to.

November 6, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Woof.

But what if the host simply forgets/forgot to give out the lingots? What if someone was busy or something the day that their competition ended and couldn't give out the prize? Would their account get banned because they had a lot going on in their life?

If someone didn't give out the prize the day they said, will you wait for a little to see if they'll actually give the prize, or will the account become immediately banned?

I understand that this rule was made because of the people who make XP contests just to gain lingots, but what about the people who are trying to host a fair competition but they forgot the date or they were busy or something similar to those? It just wouldn't be fair to them to have their account removed because they didn't give some people virtual currency on the date they promised because they made a simple mistake.

Maybe I won't host too many more XP contests after this in case I don't hand over the worthless gems in time and have all my progress wiped out and have to make a new account for no reason except I didn't give the people their valueless virtual gems in time.

November 6, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7

If someone didn't give out the prize the day they said, will you wait for a little to see if they'll actually give the prize, or will the account become immediately banned?

Yes, a moderator will contact the challenge's host and remind them that they need to hand out the prizes soon. Please, make sure you have a real email address registered with your Duolingo account. You can check and/or update the email address associated with your account Here. That way, when a moderator messages you, you can get the message. (Don't worry, moderators cannot see which email you have registered with the account. Duolingo hides that from us when we send you a direct message.)

So, there will be a small window of time between when a moderator messages a host at the end of their competition and when a ban ticket will begin to process.

We want to make sure these competitions continue to be a fun way for people to gain extra motivation. That is why we are trying to protect the integrity of the process. We aren't intending to make hosting an XP competition scary for people who plan to run them with honest intentions. We plan to make it so more people feel comfortable and confident joining them. :)

November 6, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Woof.

Thanks for your answer Usagiboy, that answers my questions perfectly.

November 6, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/siciIy

if they're that busy they probably shouldn't make an xp contest at all

November 6, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7

Sometimes life happens unpredictably. People can come down with the flu and such unexpectedly. So, I'm glad Woof. asked the question. Your comment has merit too. It's good to keep an eye on the projects we start when others are depending on us. The moderators will try to do what we can to contact hosts who have lost track of time for whatever reason before we take action on anyone's account. We're here for the sake of the community. :)

November 6, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Dcarl1

Just the question I had been thinking.

Personally, I think it is a huge commitment to sign on for being responsible for policing all these many competitions, which mostly seem to be extremely disorganized and random spurts of enthusiasm often by kids, many who have little to no idea what is involved, and just want people to pay attention to them. And yes, some of whom just want to scam and have no intention of following through. Time that would be better spent actually enforcing the one-post-a-month requirement for competitions. Since I came back there has been almost no policing of this. There are multiple repeat posts from various individuals daily, or many times a day about individual competitions.

IMO, considering that competitions are no way an officially-sanctioned function within Duolingo it should be ignored until and unless Duo makes an interface for it, which would be a good idea. If it were up to me (and it is not), the mods should just make a huge sticky post saying “caveat emptor - don’t give lingots to anyone unless you are willing to lose them, and do competitions for fun only. We guarantee nothing.”

And really, what have you lost if you don’t get the lingots? The participant has challenged themselves and spent time in improving their language study. The snake who scams them has their own bad character to live with and learns nothing.

November 6, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7

Hi Dcarl1,

I have been monitoring several XP competitions and removing the extras as I find them. Along with other tasks I see to, some things certainly slip through if I forget who has done what how long ago. Monitoring is how I've tracked ongoing and upswings in problems and talked with staff to update the rules.

Entertainment can be an important part of retention. Moocs largely fail because, well they are boring. If people who scammed these competitions weren't affecting moral among others, I wouldn't bother following up on on it. But, for some it does, regardless of what people expect should be the case. And, for the people who find language learning more enjoyable because of these contests, it is worth it to me to try to preserve some of that fun by volunteering a bit more time in the forums to do so. :)

November 6, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Dcarl1

I really do appreciate it - you have a tough job keeping things cleaned up for the rest of us.

My frustration is mostly with DL, not you. Its highly unstructured social forum leads to lots of issues.

November 6, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7

I agree, things are a bit disorganized. I think part of that is Duolingo still playing catch up to the out of this world popularity they gained super fast. From what it sounds like, there is never quite enough room to breath and find the hours needed to tackle everything that has come with so many users at the same time. Each staff member wears multiple hats and throughout the day is switching from project to project to try to get stuff done and keep everything in budget. Meanwhile they keep adding staff to help take on more work, but even then it's not quite enough to catch up. Duolingo has something special, that's for sure and it's a good thing, but also a flood's worth of it. They have my empathy for being so busy.

Visiting HQ this summer and seeing things for myself helped put things into perspective for me. I got to spend three days hanging out there with staff and they really do burn the midnight oil.

One thing especially stuck with me. I think it was Friday. I arrived that morning and saw Hideki there working. I don't recall what was on my schedule because all three days blur together between the initial tour, attending meetings, presenting a project (because bunnies also do work in the background that y'all don't get to see ^_~), attending meetings, eating amazing food, the Duoversary party, attending meetings, (wee seizure incident at the office in the middle of one said meeting, woops), eating more good food, and staring at cool Duo project stuff, more meetings, oh and cool board games over language discussions. Anyhow, so somewhere in there was Friday. It was close to midnight by the time I and some other moderators finally packed up a board game to head back to the BNB. As we're passing by the desks, Hideki was still at his, working. I can tell you that it wasn't a one off. I'm still friends with some former Duo staffers and I know they used to have a lot of late nights like that too. But, I guess that was when the reality of it really hit home for me.

I'm sure many of us all have room in our lives for more organization. In part, theirs is from juggling too many things while mine is mostly just because I'm scatterbrained. :P But, I too am looking forward to more organized forums sometime in the future. I don't know when that'll arrive. But, until then, we do what we can. No? ^_^

November 6, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/ButtersFam

I didn't know that there were official rules and now I feel that I have not followed a few of them. Thanks for the complete rules I will try to follow them for my next competition that I make.

October 28, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7

The rulings aren't organized. There are a lot of official rulings on the Guidelines and they aren't easy to find. So, if someone bumps up against it a moderator can come around and let them know. On Duolingo, moderators are here to help people learn how to navigate the forums, as well as to tend to the forums. :)

October 28, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/ButtersFam

They do a wonderful job!

October 28, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/idkhbtfm

So if I'm reading this correctly, mandatory entry fees for XP contests aren't allowed? I don't remember this rule.

November 6, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7

It was created 1 year ago according to my records. See the "Existing rule" link up top.

November 6, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/JammyDodgie

If people only donated 10 lingots but there are 20 discussion participants, you must distribute 20 lingots, 1 to each participant. Why? Because there is no way to verify who donated what amount of lingots, even if someone says "I donated 10 lingots).

I don't really get what is meant by this. Somebody please explain for me. Thanks!

December 25, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/JammyDodgie

I did an XP competition before and optionally requested lingots for prizes. They didn't have to give me lingots, only if they wanted to. I was lucky to have a lovely person called TaylorHenrique come along and give me fifty lingots. Of course, I handed them all out but did I need to give her one back too? And another question: I still have 2 people I need to give lingots to but I can't find them. How can I give them the lingots, as they deserve them?

December 25, 2017
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