Is it just me, or does it feel like all the things that just made Duolingo good are...gone?
(Not sure if this is the right place to post this discussion, but I'll go and put it here anyway.)
I'm an old Duolinguist (Duolingoer? I don't know if there's an official term) who used to be known as Blanchefleure, and when I was still really active on here in like 2014/2015 I spent most of my time on the activity stream. I barely come here anymore (except to learn a little Japanese occasionally), but one of the biggest highlights of my time here was the activity stream. It was fun being able to see what my friends were up to and also being able to write on their profile to message them. Now, it seems that's gone.
I do like the goal addition because I feel like it will motivate language learners to study their language more, but where did the activity stream go? It's literally the only place where you can talk to your friends who are also learning languages about ANYTHING, because the discussions are limited to Duolingo and language related stuff only. I also made a few online friends on here, but it seems like if I want to talk to them now about non-language related stuff I have to resort to other social media/communication, which they may not have.
Some other good things that they've taken away is Immersion, which is good for practicing translation skills and proofreading, and that one feature they used to have on the app (I forgot what it's called) that challenged you against another player to translate sentences. It was taken away not long after I first installed, unfortunately. :(
While I'll admit that not all of the changes Duolingo has made since I've gone inactive are bad, I feel like mostly everything that made it fun and exciting to learn a language is gone. It feels kind of empty now.
I've been here since the same time, and IMO, DuoLingo was specifically made to study a language. So to me, it's still great.
The reason the activity stream was removed is because people were abusing it and using it for cyber-bullying. ETA: I do wish they would make it so you could view your OWN activity. I keep losing track of posts I was involved in unless I remember to follow them. But I understand why they removed public viewing.
If you make a club, you/your friends can join it and still communicate with one another. (Though I will say they need to make it so you can access clubs from the website...)
The reason the activity stream was removed is because people were abusing it and using it for cyber-bullying.
The reason DL actually gave, as I recall, was entirely down to server-load issues (or some such technical operational matter) and nothing to do with bullying. Streams were public, whereas clubs are not, so there is far less oversight of users behaving inappropriately in the latter than there was in the former. If there was a bullying problem, DL has simply hidden it.
One of the mods pointed out cyber-bullying was an issue with activity streams just the other day. It was in relation to Immersion, not the activity stream, but the activity stream was included as a problem within that (people following peoples' streams to make annoying minute changes to peoples' translations.)
From that same vein, if you went to a person's activity stream, you could find their comments and posts anywhere. Made harassment pretty easy, regardless of any DL stated explanation.
I will probably NEVER understand why language companies like DuoLingo or Memrise develop their social stuff the way they do without trying to follow social-sites best-practices:
- 1) Why is following a one way person (adding) thing that allows users (no profile images, no profile informations, fake or comic avatars, etc.) just to add me?
Why can one person simply decide to follow me, without the system asking me in a two-way negotiation process, if I even want to APPROVE the contact so it firstly MUST be CONFIRMED?
2) At least DuoLingo has a ban button which works retroactive, but not pro-active (well, there was one button before the crappy A/B achievement web test which rendered profiles pages almost useless), where Memrise even has none.
3) Now the company Memrise has learned their whole one-way following system can be ABUSED with people announcing .ru se. sites in profile bio or creating fake accounts (they say in a thread many Memrise user accounts have been hacked, who knows if this is true if their system can be that easily tricked).
Instead of just re-engineering / improving their code, that:
- new users can NOT too easily sign-up
- users have to approve all profile changes by e-mail (well, does would NOT help if your e-mail account get's hacked as well)
- adding additional confirmation "robotic checks"
- forcing to confirming e-mail addresses on the user registering phase
they have users abuse it and randomly create fake user accounts or hack into existing accounts.
As I have heard, the same started happening on DuoLingo for some users, as no developer has ever added a "report / spam button" to make the "submit bug report" more easily.
Sadly to say, THIS is how IT business is done in the 21 century....even other social sites give some good (better) suggestions how they handle these things....and how it can be better handled.
Everything has consequences.
new users can NOT too easily sign-up
Will also decrease the amount of (real) people signing up.
confirmation "robotic checks"
Wasted effort doing that on sign-up. What works better is setting barriers like at least level 3 in a language to be able to use social features. Things like profile pictures and bios of a new user could be hidden for other users until the new user reached a certain goal. With potential extra checks such as that the level hasn't been reached by redoing a single skill x times or hasn't been achieved in an impossible time like 1 minute to complete 10 exercises. Those barriers do not need to in place from the start, but Duolingo could look at and learn from the behavior of malicious accounts to specifically target methods used by them.
Barriers at sign-up mainly make it harder for real users while people with bad intentions who want to create many accounts will still be able to rapidly do so. If the barrier is a captcha you can still code everything to solely do the captcha manually, which still allows you to create hundreds of accounts / hour. And even captchas can get scripted or you can hire a cheap captcha solving service. This kind of barrier only keeps "normal" users from going out of bounds while it won't even stop people who just have basic programming skills.
Not just that - most of it was unrelated to Immersion. There was all kinds of nutso drama that was created and amplified by the activity stream. People would lurk on others' streams, track activity, and then harass them on their page and (then if blocked) directly in the Forums. All kinds of kiddy psychodrama was going on all the time that would bubble over to the Forums. From my POV as an adult who found all that excessively tedious, I think the Forum is a much calmer place these days without the catalyst of activity stream interaction. Do I miss the stream? Sure. But is it essential? No.
But yes, the real and official reason is that it took a lot of server space and wasn't core to their mission.
I do think it's a bit broken when there's no way to find one's own contributions or the contributions of those one is following. I don't think anyone can say that Duolingo is just as good at teaching language as it ever was. I followed those whose discussion contributions added to my learning. I didn't use the chat function, but even losing my minimal use has affected what I can pick up at the site and made me feel less personally connected to Duolingo's success as a company. That's just how it is.
I mean, yeah, Duolingo is first and foremost a site for language learning, but I feel like it was far more beneficial being able to talk with friends more personally about language progress and also other unrelated stuff that you can’t really talk about here.
I forgot to mention this while making the post, but another good feature of the activity stream was that you used to be able to also see when people level up/completed a new skill and it was really encouraging when some of my followers/friends would comment and congratulate me. And that helped motivate me a lot more to continue learning.
I was thinking the EXACT same thing.
I used to be pretty active on Duolingo back in early to mid 2014, but I just kinda stopped, (life things, school, etc).
I pick it back up a few months back and see that practically Duolingo has changed as a whole. But the thing I miss the most is the activity stream feature. Now, if I want to talk to anyone, I've got to resort to others means, and a few of the friends I've made on here recently don't use the same sort of social media as I do, and because of Duolingo's guidelines being that you cannot link external social media sources and such has made this all the more infuriating.
I would love to have this feature back, but I doubt it ever will, sadly...
i have been here almost 2 years, not as long as some of you. But a lot of changes have taken place. I miss the activity stream and immersion. I hope they keep the lingots which I understand are a threatened species. And I am not sure how long language learning would be free.