I finished my first tree (Spanish from English) today. And it is completely golden and beautiful.
I am fairly new to the site and recently posted a question about "Losing Strength". I received several various responses and decided to do one new lesson first each day and then go back and strengthen the non-gold subjects. I am very glad that I did because it help strengthen my language skill. At first I would have 15 skills loose their gold each day and the more I worked on them, fewer would change each day. Today I only had 3 change on me. I was able to spend more time on new stuff each day.
I am plan on keeping it gold while I work on a golden (English from Spanish) tree.
Thanks to every one who has offered help or advice.
If there are down-vote buttons, they will be misused.
It really is that simple as it is, and I have already seen it on another RC flight hobby forum that it gone from good to worse.
Solution: The RC forum removed the annoying down-vote buttons, but let the up-vote button stay.
If the DuoLingo staff would add spam / report button to profiles and forum threads and comments, it would be much easier to report those.
The wisdom of the crowd usually resolves down-vote abuse—when I made the comment above, this post was -4, and now it is +22: the sensible majority does not misuse the button. The main problem with your proposal is that it would remove this majority's ability to self-police obvious spam: every report would need the individual attention of a moderator before anything was done about it, and this could easily enable a determined spammer to put the forum out of use for hours (every so often, someone floods the forum with rubbish, and without a down-vote button it will remain there, obscuring everything else, for very much longer).
I do think the 'hiding-limit' of -5 votes could safely be decreased slightly, however. There should be a spam/report button in addition, especially now that it is impossible to inform moderators of an issue via streams.
Practically anything can be misused; this, of itself, is not a reason to remove anything, or we should all live in padded cells.
Yes, I agree in some parts what you have said.
Speaking as a developer myself:
It is not that difficult to limit forum functionality to gained forum user ranks.
Look at the Memrise community forum:
They add (auto-)ranks, for "well-known" members (e.g +1 year), where additional forum functionality is added (e.g removing threads, moving/editing) to user accounts after a period of time.
There are also some "leader" positions, which can be manually granted by admins.
I definitely believe there are better "ways in the middle" ("der goldene Mittelweg") that not EVERY new user (or clone account) can use a discussion forum and all it's "features", without pre-identification of that user user and account history (and this DuoLingo limitation of "level 2" is surely not enough for the base).
That's all fair enough; I'd see no problem in limiting the ability to down-vote to something like level 5. Serious users of Duolingo reach this in a very short time, but it would necessitate an awful lot of extra effort for those who only want to spam/disrupt.
I think there is (or was) an A/B-test requiring email verification before granting any voting abilities (the level-two bar only applies to posting, not voting on posts); I'm not sure as to its current status, but I have noticed less really gratuitous vote-rigging of late.