Suggestions for improving the forum... ideas?
With the removal of activity streams a while back the forums are the only way to converse with other language learners about some of the topics we (probably) all love: the languages we are learning, methods we are using, tools, external resources, things to motivate us. The boards aren't perfect (and once in a while I like to complain about that hehe =)) but I thought I'd try something else this time and create a place where ideas for improvements could be posted.
So if you have a suggestion, post it below and upvote ideas you like! Keep in mind Duolingo has limited resources and is not likely to make major changes any time soon. Also, think positive, so no(t too much) complaining =)
Curious what you all can come up with!
Mandatory tour for new users
How often do we get basic questions which are answered in the help-section? Often! Who reads those questions? Why not make it obligatory to go through a "tour/tutorial" before being able to post in the forum. Not too long, just some basic stuff like what are the main guidelines, where to find answers to basic questions, how to formulate a good question (for starters.. descriptive post title). Stackexchange has something like this (and much more, but that's not going to happen here I think)
Allow moderators to move posts to a different forum
This way they (and other users) would not need to paste messages telling someone that another forum may be more appropriate. They could simply click on a drop-down list and select a more appropriate forum. The system would then automatically notify the OP with a message along the lines of: "Your post [post title here] has been moved to the more appropriate forum [forum title here] to keep the forums relevant to their topics and to hopefully put your post where people expecting such discussions are likely to see it."
There are probably downsides to this.
Create some extra fora so people can choose what to read. For example, I'm not interested in XP contests and "Hello, I'm new posts". Having separate board like e.g. "contests \& challenges" and "introductions \& my duo lingo story" would enable me to skip those and focus on the things I do like, which increases the chance of me staying around the boards. Any other ideas for boards?
Favourite posts (i.e. bookmarks)
Enabling you to create a list of useful discussions e.g. (external) resources for the languages you are learning, of useful howto-posts or moderator announcements (for example, when helping new users so you can easily find and paste some links to steer them in a certain direction, like Usagiboy's post about how to keep your streak), XP cometitions (if you're into those things, which I'm not for the record), hall-of-fame threads, or *cough* this post *cough*. =)
Implementation could be a simple button next to the "Follow Discussion" one, and the list an extra tab in the discussion board (Popular | New | Followed | Favourites)
There are some nice markup options for posts, but I miss tables! Staff seems to have the ability, but why not the rest of us? Lists of resources (name, link, description), Halls of Fame, plenty of situations where a nice table would make things a lot easier to read/better looking.
Contact a moderator
With the activity streams we could contact a moderator, now the only option to contact one is making a post in the forum with a title like "@Moderators: ....". How annoying is that? =) Having a report button somewhere (either for each post or in general somewhere) to contact a moderator, any moderator (one being online) would be useful imo. I understand this may result in lots of messages to the mods, but if they can rate incoming "reports" for their usefulness it should be possible to quickly filter incoming messages based on user-reporting-history. Any moderators who have an opinion on this? Would this be helpfull?
Revamp the Troubleshooting Forum
Instead of freeform writing like it is now, it would be great if it would be in some sort of form. People could still reply and help, and the posts then get tagged as solved by the original poster, mods or admins (if they solve it behind the scenes, because of userdata). This way people know what is reported (and the same thing doesn't get reported a hundred times), if it's not a bug report but a question, you could see the solution. Plus we'd know what the admins work on, what problems they solved and maybe come to appreciate their efforts more instead of being frustrated.
Lingot giving mechanism
Giving one Lingot at a time is a cumbersome process (and has been glitched for a while now after the forum maintanence), so I’ve been thinking that it would be more convenient to have a text box to write the number of lingots you wish to give, or a drop down menu to choose the number from to accelerate that process.
I too would love to see more uses for Lingots, especially in the form of things to buy from the Lingot Store. But the purpose of this discussion (as Jersebas indicated) was to give suggestions related only to the use of the forum, so I kept my suggestion related to that topic.
Sort discussions by timestamp of last post
Currently we have a "Popular" tab with first tons of stickies and then some strange algorithm which decides what a popular discussion is (with really strange results imo) and the "New" tab where discussions are shown in chronological order of posting. Interesting discussions get lost there quite fast (especially as soon as school kids from a certain timezone get online I think, would love to see some metrics on that btw). Ordering the discussions by the timestamp of the last addition (latest on top) shows where the activity is and gets more exposure/attention for useful (thus active) discussions?!? Maybe "Recent" would be a better name than "New"? (This has some overlap with the Popular-tab, but imo that one is next to useless in its current form)