"Long time no see! How are you doing?"
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Actually, no, it shouldn't be accepted. It's a very big misconception that "你好吗“ means "how are you". But if you ask any Chinese person, they'd tell you it's just wrong and strange. Read the following article please and/or ask any Chinese friend you have :)
"你好吗" is acceptable even if not ideal.
Your point is somewhat inaccurate, or at best overstated, and it's worth noting that there are contradictory comments at the other end of your link.
While "你好吗" might not always be an ideal translation, consider the following points:
Tell any Chinese speaker upon first meeting them that you can speak some Chinese, and (in my experience) there's at least a 50% chance that "你好吗" is the first thing that will come out of their mouth, often in a very slow and exaggerated way, to test you. In other words, that "你好吗" is a commonly used Chinese phrase is an idea perpetuated partly by native Chinese speakers themselves.
"你好吗" is actually used, not necessarily as a casual greeting among acquaintances, but, in the right context, as a somewhat less common expression of deeper concern, e.g. in closer relationships, and it can mean something like "Are you doing okay?". There are other ways to ask after someone's wellbeing, but this is a legitimate one, notwithstanding any of the comments in the discussion at the other end of your link.
Modify it slightly by adding "最近" and at least to some native Chinese speakers it actually sounds perfectly natural as a casual inquiry of an acquaintance. "你最近好吗" is something a native-Chinese-speaking very good friend of mine says she uses very commonly, and to her it sounds casual but sincere, unlike "你最近怎么样", which she says sounds nosy because it sounds like it's fishing for details, and she never uses it.
In online forums I've personally received initial messages starting with "你好吗" from native Chinese speakers introducing themselves to me. These are in the minority compared to those starting with just "你好", but they exist, they're current, and I still have them in my inbox. This fits with the following comment by a native Chinese speaker on Duolingo:
熟人之间是不会说 "你好吗"，会直接说想说的话。陌生人之间通常会先说 "你好" or "你好吗"。
Acquaintances don't say "你好吗" to one another; they directly say what they want to say. Strangers say "你好" or "你好吗".
There may be regional differences in usage, in addition to personal preference, but we can add to the above the fact that these three words individually, "你", "好", and "吗", are among the most useful and the first to be taught, which probably has a lot to do with why the phrase "你好吗" is something learners encounter quite early.
I would agree that learners shouldn't take "你好吗" for granted as the/a typical greeting without proper context, but in the right context it's legitimate, "How are you" is roughly what it means, and it shouldn't be rejected here.
No, Duolingo ignores punctuation. Your problem is that you put a space between the sentences. Duolingo doesn't allow spaces in Chinese. If you use Chinese punctuation you won't need spaces because your entries will look correct without them.
Your options are to not separate the sentences at all, or to separate them properly with Chinese punctuation (but no spaces).
I think there's a disparity for those using a Chinese keyboard, wherein you can type whatever characters you want. Without a Chinese keyboard enabled, you have to choose from a given set of characters on the screen. In this instance, 'ni hao ma' is not an option, but 'ni zemme yang' is an option. So, maybe the system is looking for that answer exclusively. I don't know why the answer would or wouldn't be an accepted translation, I just mean that's a possible identification of the problem.
Next time copy your sentence and paste it here, so we can take a look.
(If you put any spaces at all in [or between] your Chinese sentences your answer will be marked wrong, and if you use Western-encoded punctuation instead of Chinese punctuation, you may be tempted to add spaces around the punctuation to make it look right for Chinese, whick will atill be marked wrong.)
I don't think it's strictly necessary, but you can add whoever you're inquiring about (as well as other clarifying elements) in front, e.g. "你妈妈最近怎么样？", and on the other hand you can also use "怎么样" on its own to prompt a response to a suggestion you've made or to an option being presented.
I think it's okay, but since it's not so much an idiomatic set phrase, I also think it would sound more natural filled out with some other words. (Also, "好久" somehow sounds better to my ear.)
In any event, Collins gives the following example:
⇒ 我们俩好久没见了。 (Wǒmen liǎ hǎojiǔ méi jiàn le.) We have not seen each other in a long time.
You have to write it the same down to the lack of a space between the sentences.
(Actually, you don't need punctuation, but you do need to leave out any spaces.)
I'm afraid you're misunderstanding the problem. I have many comments on this page that explain it. Here are links to some:
Don't use any spaces at all, and you should be fine. However, if you want the spacing to look right, use Chinese punctuation.