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Why does Duolingo deliberately limit sentence discussion?

I think the title to my post is accurate, but I'm interested in others' thoughts.

When I first started the new Chinese course a couple of weeks ago, shortly after the beta version came out, I was pleasantly surprised that I didn't have to remember to follow a discussion that I'd commented on, as I was marked as following it by default. This had been Duolingo's original default setting across the site (at least during my time on Duolingo), but the setting had been removed from other discussions when the site was updated some months ago, to the chagrin of many users, including me.

Sometime in the last while, without me noticing at first, the Chinese course went the way of the rest of Duolingo, and the default setting is now that I'm not automatically marked as following the discussion for a sentence I've commented on.

This state of affairs suggests two things. One is that it would be easy for Duolingo to set following as the default. The other is that Duolingo has deliberately chosen not to.

It's not an absolute limitation on discussion, of course, but it's a limitation by practical effect. I think new users who don't know the system are especially likely to post a question without ever noticing that someone has answered.

It doesn't make any sense to me. It's easy for someone to unfollow a discussion, because as soon as they receive a notification of a post, they're reminded of the fact that they're following it. Not so for the opposite. If I forget to follow a discussion where I hoped to get an answer to a question, someone can give feedback without me knowing, and it might be months or years before I stumble on the discussion again. And Duo's search function isn't good enough to compensate. (In fact it's not very good at all.)

It also strikes me that people are encouraged to take a little more responsibility for their posts if they receive responses by default.

Owls are supposed to be wise. Where's the wisdom in the current setting? What am I missing? What is Duolingo trying to avoid? Is limiting sentence discussion just another necessity of the inadequate computing power for the platform? Is there some secret A/B test result that's governing the decision on this?

Edit 1: By default, I'm not even marked as following this very post.

Edit 2: Workaround, courtesy of mog86uk, by way of Thomas.Heiss, per his comment below:


December 9, 2017



Last I heard from a staff member, it was a bug. Before, following discussions one created or commented on was automatic. It joins the list of things that need to be fixed.


I hope you're right, but that seems contrary to my observations. It was okay with Chinese until a couple of days ago, in contrast to the rest of the site.

Or is it possible that they had the whole site fixed for a few days, and I only noticed it in the Chinese course, and then it broke again? Or that Chinese didn't experience the site-wide bug at first, and then later it did?


I hope I'm right too. They definitely have the ability to test things on one portion of the website, or one group. It's possible that it started as a bug and they decided to collect data on user interaction with the new situation. Duolingo is beyond famous for all of the tests they run. Whatever's going on with the following discussion stuff, I hope they return to auto-follow.


Thank you kindly. But now how will I ever know if Duo gets repaired? ;-)

In my quick test, this script seems to work for a comment on a discussion already started, but not for the original post starting the discussion.

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