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New Wiki-Style Translations

Today we're starting to test a new way to do real-world translations. Most of you won't be able to see them yet, but I wanted to describe how they work in order to get some feedback. While the previous version did a few things well, we felt it was over-constrained and was not as enjoyable as our lessons. So, we're testing the new format in an effort to make the experience more enjoyable and also increase the learning outcome.

The main idea is to give more emphasis to reading real documents in the language you're learning. Instead of dropping you in the middle of a document and asking you to translate a randomly selected sentence as we did before, we place you at the top of the document and let you freely interact with it. Here's what it looks like when you start: http://imgur.com/wYMaot5

Some of the sentences in the document may already have a translation from a community member. If you put your mouse over one of these, the current translation is shown above it, and the word that you're hovering over will be highlighted in both the original sentence and the translation (of course, this won't always be possible because there is not an exact correspondence between the words in the original language and the translation). We want to give you the tools to understand the article in your new language. Here's what this looks like: http://imgur.com/ZKxtfBz

For each sentence, you can either edit its translation (much like you would edit a wiki), or you can say that the translation looks good to you by clicking on the check button. Once you've done this, the sentence turns green to indicate that you've read it and understood it. You get points for going over each sentence :)

If an article is not yet finished, the sentences may stop having a translation after a certain point. For those, you can be the first to add a translation (and get points by doing so!).

There are many other bells and whistles, such as comments on each sentence, a revision history of all the translations, the ability to follow a given sentence in case you want to be notified of any changes somebody makes, etc.

I'd love to hear what you think about the new translation view.

March 19, 2013


[deactivated user]

    So we only ever get to see the latest edit? I'm not sure I like this. Here's what I predict is going to happen.

    1) User A submits a great idiomatic translation.

    2) User B doesn't understand that idiomatic translations are better than literal translations. He dismisses user A's translation and submits a literal translation, which is mediocre at best.

    3) Users C, D, and E never get to see user A's translation and give user B's mediocre translation a thumbs up.


    I agree with Christian. The way I've been doing translations is not through the lessons. I go through the list of translations and pick a topic I like. Then I find a sentence that I think is just above my abilities. I translate it before seeing others' translations. I like seeing 3 translations at the end and choosing the best.

    If the translated sentences that pop up are kept short, perhaps we can see the best 3 instead of the latest. This is a good feature I'd like to keep.


    You can see all the edits, but we show the latest by default. Also, user A would get a notification when user B makes the change so they can revert if they so want.


    Hopefully we won't have edit wars in the future...

    [deactivated user]

      Fair enough. Personally, I'd like to be able to see all or at least the latest 10 or so edits by default.


      I'm seconding this. I'm not dealing with 100% info as imgur is blocked at work, but I foresee issues and would like to see multiple translations. (I understand your cluttered explanation but I'd still like to see them, even if it was in a pop up window or something).

      Regardless though, thanks for building and adapting, and striving to make improvements/modifications!


      If imgur is blocked, try replacing "imgur" with "filmot" in the URL. It's a mirror, useful for when you can't access the main imgur site.


      No go, but thanks for the info.


      Most Important: Thanks for consulting people.


      I agree with Christian. It's very useful to see other translations


      We considered this, but it's quite cluttered to show more than one edit.


      Is it possible to have the best-rated answer showing?


      Would there be an easy way to scroll through them by popularity as well as by how recent?


      I can´t wait. When will we see these modifications applied?


      I also like the older version where we could see the different translations at once. They may only differ by a word or two but it's a very useful feature, even if limited to the best 3 translations or so.


      christian, I like your english ! It teaches me more than Duolingo does.


      This sounds great for the business model, bad for the users, fatal for my use-case.

      1) Great for the Business Model

      The wiki format can produce very high quality work as many sites have recently shown. Some people understand the foreign texts very well, but write low-quality English translations, other have a hard time understanding the text but write better and more natural translations, this seems to encourage the best combination of such inputs, and will probably produce much more homogeneous and high quality translations than any algorithm previously used.

      2) Bad for the Users

      If I understand correctly, the new format will eliminate the option for users to translate sentences without viewing the best current translation, if one exists (that is, they will still be able to do it independently, of course, but no longer in the input-box format with the aid of translation of single words only).

      In my opinion, this is much less effective for learning than the current method. For example, say a user tried to read a sentence, and understands everything except for one word in the middle of the sentence, without which it would be difficult to understand the rest. In the current format, he can view the translation of this word, and understand the rest of the sentence on his own; in the new format, he will receive the translation of the whole sentence, and won't get a chance to tackle the translation.

      It is true that improvement of best chosen sentences is useful to the users too, and should be encouraged, but this can be done in the current format by slight redesign and rewarding. I think the removal of complete sentence translation will be very harmful for the ability to learn from the translation section of the site, and in fact reduce rather than increase its value for users.

      3) Fatal for My Use Case

      My use case is as follows: I am studying German. I studied German before using Duolingo, so from the beginning I was mostly interested in the translation section. I did most of the lessons, and for the past months have been focusing almost only on translations, with the goal of translating 100 points every day, as an incentive to keep improving my German.

      What I do when translating sentences is exactly as I described in (2): I try to understand and translate the sentence on my own, if I am missing a few words, I check them using the hover translation, and if I still don't understand the sentence, I give it my best shot, and look at the suggested translations to see what others thought.

      The new format will effectively change my task from translating sentences on my own to participating in a community translation, which is clearly very bad for practicing my German (though perhaps better for refining my English phrasing - but this is not my goal here), as a lot of the content input will not be mine.

      I agree that "dropping you in the middle of a document and asking you to translate a randomly selected sentence" is very bad, but the simple solution for this is to enable (as was in the past) the translation of all sentences, even those that are "100% completed" - perhaps sentences could have lower star-yield the more times they have been translated? I remember when the "100% translated" feature was introduced, translation became a far more tedious and less rewarding task.

      Duolingo is a great resource for learning a language, especially so because it contains the ability to comfortably tackle real-world documents, in my opinion. I would hate to see that compromised for better final translations.


      I should mention that the new translations were done entirely with the goal of making the experience more enjoyable for users.

      We have very patient investors who believe in our cause. Our current goal is to have by far the best language learning site.


      I completely agree with the chance of translating a sentence from scratch before looking at any other translations.

      Luis, you say we'll be able to start fresh translations at the bottom of any document. Do you anticipate there will be enough content that we can start new sentences as often as we like?


      I generally do the entire page from the top anyway, and the new format looks nice. However, I think Christian has a good point about only the most recent popping up—and I agree with RoniG about the best-of-three. That's useful.


      Well.. im looking forward to it. We have heard some complaints about the translations. If you chose by yourself it could be fun, but if it happened when you had to get gold on a skill, and you got documents by chance, that could be frustrating. I havent started yet checking how it will work but by now i can say the layout is much nicer, and I think it will be more enjoyable to interact this way with other students. When we work in groups, I think we sometimes learn more since we give and get opinions. Hope it works all right :)


      Can't wait to try something new!


      I wonder at what point is there a correct answer given by Duolingo against which we can compare the translations. Otherwise as Christian below says, the latest may not be the most apt translation. I feel it would be discouraging to those who hope they did pretty well to see something less idiomatic or even obviously incorrect take the place of one they tried hard to translate. Otherwise, how does one know how close one came to the optimal?


      With these new translations, apparently people edit the others' translations more often. I've just translated an article and I'm getting a flood of email notifications about revisions made by another user. I certainly don't like being disturbed by those every minute, but an option to see my translations revised later would be nice. Something has to be done with notifications to make them useful but not too intrusive. Something also has to be done with reviewing translations: if a user gets more points for revision than for confirming the others' translations, he/she tends to make edits even if the original translation is quite good. Certainly the correction of "I'm" to "I am" is not so necessary. I would also appreciate the option to comment edits. The existing commenting option is more for discussing difficult points than for giving your opinion about somebody's translation and the ideas for corrections.

      By the way, it seems that Notification settings don't work. I've turned off the notifications concerning translation in the Settings section, but the emails are still coming.


      Thanks for all these points! We'll work on fixing the problems :)

      • 3200

      Sound like positive changes to me.


      Looks good! Luis, is there a way to become a beta tester of this?

      Are these translations still connected with lessons?


      +1 I'd gladly beta test.


      I also greatly agree with Christian's view, however I couldn't be more excited to try it out! Sounds like a step in the right direction.


      Would be great to participate on this!


      I would love to beta test too!


      I would also love to beta test.


      Any chance some of the vocabulary from our translations could appear in our vocabulary review? That would be especially helpful for reinforcing what we learned during the translations. If that can't be built in, perhaps we could copy and paste words and phrases from translations to a custom vocabulary list that we create for our account? Words from the custom list could become part of our vocabulary review sessions.


      I expect it to be a lot better. You guys rock!


      I'm learning Spanish and this has become active on my account. I'd say that in terms of encouraging you to attempt to read a whole article and contribute, this is a good improvement.

      On the other hand, at the moment, it's discouraging me from doing translations as there is no longer a quick and easy way to jump to a translation which is suited to the level I'm at and what I've already learnt. Before there'd maybe be just a few words and tenses I hadn't hit before, now there are loads! Too many for me to try and memorise them all for the future.

      I also find the new interface quite finicky in a desktop web browser and impossible on an iPad. When the translation interface is up, with it being over the top it's hard to read through the rest of the document to get a sense of the language and words surrounding. If I'm trying to look at the previous paragraph for instance to get a clue about how else a phrase or word is being used, I can't do that without closing the current window.

      I also miss seeing the ranked translations after completing mine. They often helped me have 'aha' moments as to some combination of words which baffled me...

      Hope that helps.



      First off, thanks for creating this wonderful learning program.

      In relation to the new translations view, I have one main issue. There is no way to tell how much of a document has been translated without scrolling through its entirety.

      This is a problem because it's silly to have to scroll through a whole document to find either everything has been translated, or only the long complex bits are left (that myself as a beginner can't yet do).

      I would suggest some sort of filter or rank so people can select little, medium or mostly translated documents, as well as some indication of the complexity or length of the untranslated sections.

      Thank you.


      I think that translating sentences in isolation can lead to pretty poor results. I feel that understanding the context is half the battle. It looks like this new system will go a long way to providing the context we need to do a better job. Thanks for this ever improving system.

      Something else that might be useful (maybe for optional reading) is a set of guidelines for handling certain kinds of situations. Specifically, when one encounters words that are already in English, what is good style there? When you encounter a regional entity such as a European sports organization, should one try to explain what that is? (To reverse the question, if I were translating to Spanish or German, would I explain what entities like the NCAA, NBA, AFL, American League, etc., were all about?) When I encountered a German text that dealt with the Saxon dialect, I really didn't know how to handle that. Should you try to come up with weird English words that suggest some kind of accent? When something strange comes up, I often Google it to find out what it is all about. Is that kind of thing expected? I.e, what constitutes a good translation (in the context of Duolingo)?


      How do you get to the real world practice?


      Thank you for this note - any way such news can be stickied or put in its own Duolingo's lingo section? I found it quite by luck from a link made by kristinemc on the Fallacious 'Final translation' thread.


      My question is: what does this mean for the iPhone app? I spend 95-99% of my time on Duolingo there, only coming here (to the web app) for discussion and to check the notes on a particular subject. Will I have to come here for translations too? Please make a version of the app with this type of translation, and while your at it, put the notes there as well.


      Luis, I've tried that Immersion thing and it's totally superb! It looks very neat. I love the comments option and the bonus for translating the entire document. It is really motivating. Thanks for enrolling me into this. I hope you'll soon deploy the new version to other users as well.


      It looks nice, but I'm not sure I can use it as a learning technique - at least, not yet.

      I liked how the old real-world practice section jumped you to sentences that were heavy with words you already knew. This was helpful because, if there was only one or two words I didn't know, I could hover over them and discover their meaning in context with the entire sentence. Now I'm opening an entire page full of words I don't know and it's just too overwhelming. I like how you can reveal translations written by other people, but revealing the WHOLE translation removes any challenge, if I'm only checking a single word.

      I'm not complaining. It looks nice. As I said, I'm sure it's fantastic tool for those that are more fluent than I. But I don't think I'll be able to use it for a long time.


      It looks great and I'd really love to use it, but I think that, like everything else, we won't see it for months.


      Aw, we try to go as fast as possible :( It really depends on how may changes we need to do based on the community response to the test. My guess is that everybody will be seeing these in a few weeks.


      Seeing one perfectly or almost perfectly translated sentence, missing only one or two twists, does not improve the learning experience for users. Reading the comments it looks like many folks think the same way. Your idea of showing sentences in context by displaying whole documents sounds cool. But the user only benefits if he or she is challenged to practise the foreign language and this does simply not happen if you display the best sentence above all.

      I really like your business model and it is obvious that you depend on excellent translations made by users. But I simply hope that we find a way to combine this with a great learning (!) experience for us while doing translations.

      Chris from Cologne, Germany


      Even if the sentence has already been translated, I would like to translate it mentally before proofreading the existing translation. That is, I'd like to see hover hints with words, but not to see the existing translation. After I get the idea of the sentence, I could click something to review the existing translation and compare it with my understanding. What do you think about this?

      Another thought: It would be nice to have some option to switch to the English version of the text after the translation to read it through and review the style. This should be good for improving translation quality. For learning, of course, it is great to reread the article again in the source language and try to remember new words and expressions.

      Anyway, I get to love this move and more <3


      The screen shots look great (much cleaner) and I'm willing to give it a try, but I'm going to miss giving the translation a try on my own. I'm really going to miss the AH HA moments and the figuring it out like a puzzle aspect of translating. As I understand it, it will be a jazzed up version of Google Translate's "Would you mind answering some questions to help improve translation quality?" They present you with 2 translations and you select which is the best translation or if both translations are OK. I find that I'm not experienced enough to really understand the nuances of a language to make a judgment. I learn best by doing not by reading comments or already translated work. It reminds me of ''peeking'' when doing the exercises. Once I see the translation, ya, it makes sense but it's the struggle that seems to set it firmly in my mind.
      I see this change as mostly beneficial to high intermediate to superior level students. I'm just guessing here, but I would bet the majority of Duo users are beginner thru maybe low intermediate. Hopefully, they don't get discouraged. The current set-up is what set's DUO apart from other language learning sites...the challenge of actually translating, by yourself, real-world materials and THEN seeing how you stacked up. I even get excited when I translate even the simplest of materials correctly. It’s like I AM a ''real'' Spanish speaker or a ''real'' French speaker! Everyone learns a bit differently so, perhaps, this change will be beneficial and appealing to most DUO users. I know I’ll give it a try! I just hope DUO hasn’t lost its magic for me!


      Im a big fan of massively multiplayer online role-playing games(AKA MMORPGs). SO seeing as I will progress by doing this, it will definitely be an incentive(but god knows why I care about this, it just works!).


      I think it's vital that you allow people to go through different translations and vote for the best, even flank bad translations. Am I the only one who thinks that the translation in the example screenshot is terrible? http://imgur.com/ZKxtfBz

      But I definitely think that this format will be better and more productive than the current one.


      But you can edit this translation, and this will be much more useful than just grading it and leaving it as is.


      The new system looks great.


      I love this idea. My only suggestion would be to have more emphasis on a discussion page for each document or even paragraph. Sometimes the best part of a lesson is the discussion pages. Maybe you could require a comment explaining changes whenever someone makes a revision?


      This looks great. Im looking forward to the new version - having said which, I love the current version too! I just love how you are continually trying to improve this magnificent program!


      Looking forward to this change. Still hoping to have "new" articles released in smaller batches , more often. 14 all at once today , but picked over by the time I could get to them :-(


      It seems like this would be a more useful thing for learning if the other translations were shown after you had entered your own translation—much like the very first iteration of the translation feature, which I loved and keep waiting for Duolingo to return to. I enjoyed the first one because I could go through the whole article translating what I could and, more importantly, NOT seeing how others have tackled the same sentences until I'd given each sentence my best shot (which, of course, I could then go back and edit when I knew better)!

      So I believe that this is at least a step in the right direction, but not exactly the most useful for the users.


      I really miss the "real world practice" button. It is very hard to find sentences to translate easy enough to your level. Wikipedia style sounds a great idea but there must be some help to find appropriate sentences for the learner.


      Is this the reason why real-word translation is unavailable for me in the iPhone app? My boyfriend has it, so I though it's only a difference between Italian and Spanish. Btw, a few articles other than iPhone and smartphones would be appreciated in Italian. E.g. arts, nature... Thanks for your support!


      Where has it gone?

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