https://www.duolingo.com/CommeuneTexane

FAQ: "My answer should be accepted/There is a problem with the sentence"

Greetings everyone!

Occasionally while doing a lesson you may encounter a problem with a sentence: the original sentence is incorrect or unnatural, the correction you receive contains a mistake, or the hints are missing/misleading. More commonly, you may enter a correct translation that is not yet accepted.

How does this happen and what should you do?

In order to answer this question, let me first lift some of the mystery that shrouds the development of your language courses.

The courses on Duolingo are created and/or maintained by a small group of contributing teams ranging between 2 to 5 people. These contributors organize lessons and add words to teach specific vocabulary terms and grammar points. Once a word has been added, new and inventive sentences are created to demonstrate how to use the new term. Each new sentence must then be translated in as many ways as possible. Even fairly simple sentences can have 50 or more possible translations. Complex sentences can have hundreds of possible translations. This all must be entered by the contributors themselves; a computer does not generate translations.

Let's take a very simple example found in the French course: Elle fait du fromage.

For this sentence one could write:

  • She makes some cheese.
  • She makes cheese.
  • She is making some cheese.
  • She is making cheese.
  • She prepares some cheese.
  • She prepares cheese.
  • She is preparing some cheese.
  • She is preparing cheese.

That is 8 possible translations into English for a very simple sentence.

Then that sentence must be translated back into French:

  • Elle fait du fromage.
  • Elle prépare du fromage.
  • Elle est en train de faire du fromage.
  • Elle est en train de préparer du fromage.

A slightly more complex sentence like, Vous pouvez avoir ce livre gratuitement has "81 possible translations into English.
This sentence Finalement, la mère demande à sa fille de goûter au café has 397 possible English translations.
Il faut que nous ayons informé les familles ce soir has 1729 possible translations.

When a new tree version is created there will be hundreds or even thousands of new sentences to go with the new vocabulary. In the process, some possible translations may not yet be accepted, because either the contributors didn't conceive of that alternative or simply forgot. Additionally, mistakes can happen when adding a lot of new material. This is where you can help make the course better for other learners. If you are absolutely certain that your answer should have been accepted (no missing nor extra accent, no missing nor extra punctuation, no typo, no grammar error, etc.) or there is another problem, please click on the REPORT tab at the bottom of the page.

Also, if your answer is identical to the translation displayed and still graded as incorrect, this is a bug. Any translation you're shown is present in our list of accepted translations. If you want to report it, please do so through the bug form, and remember to add a screenshot.

Depending on the type of exercise, REPORT brings up part or all of this list of options:

  • The audio does not sound correct.
  • The dictionary hints on hover are wrong or missing.
  • The French/English sentence is unnatural or has an error.
  • The "Correct solution" is unnatural or has an error.
  • My answer should be accepted.

Choose the appropriate option and a course contributor will at see it and fix the problem as soon as possible.
NOTE: If you are not sure if your answer should be accepted or not, please do not report it, but click on DISCUSS found next to the REPORT button. This will open a window to the sentence discussion. Here you may find other learners with the same question. IMPORTANT! Please read what others have posted before writing your question. It is possible that your question has already been answered by a moderator, contributor, educator, or fellow learner. If it has not been answered, but someone else has asked the same question, you can simply upvote their question. Adding "me too," "ditto," "I have the same question," tends to just clutter the page and makes it difficult to find information. If no one else has the same question as you do, please write your question and be sure to click "Follow" on the top right corner. If your email notifications are turned on, when someone responds to your question, you will receive an email.

Thank you very much for your patience and help! You can make the courses here better and help this community of learners.

Good luck and best wishes in your studies!

-Tex

March 29, 2018

37 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/tiramisues
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1729 possible translations

WOW.

Thank you and the rest of the contributors so much for all your hard work!

March 29, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Saved_by_Christ
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thanks Tex!

March 29, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Marie-Clai133496

What about the enormous mistakes on the Irish course, something like ( I am making it up for illustration purposes) "Ils fait de la fromage", completely wrong and still not corrected after 4 years of being reported...

I do not mind sticking to the answers in English or Irish that the computer system accepts, it is the completely incorrect answers which are annoying.

You have to learn to give Duolingo the wrong answer and try to remember the correct answer, and remember not to use it on duolingo...

March 30, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/CommeuneTexane

I can't speak for the Irish course, so this is just an idea, but since it is a very old problem, perhaps you can make a post in the Irish/English forum? Explain the mistake clearly, link the sentence discussion, and remember that the contributors are only human too. Perhaps this sentence is just buried in the course and they haven't seen it yet...

March 30, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Marie-Clai133496

I think everybody on the Irish/English forum has long given up hope on anything blatantly incorrect to get corrected after more than 4 years of reporting.

Would there still be a team of contributors correcting errors after all these years ?

The mistakes are particularly obvious in the latter part of the tree, and if there are in the tips and notes sections, or with the multiple choices images, there are no report buttons.

It might even be impossible to correct.... Who knows?

March 30, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Ripcurlgirl
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You might find that many of these "poor" sentences have been removed in the new tree.

April 1, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/FrenchWarriorCat

Thanks, that explains why some of my translations are not getting through.

Merci!

March 29, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/EL5tEL
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Thanks for this great explanation! I understand the process much better and will continue to point to this comment when questions come up. A huge thanks to those volunteers who read all of the submissions and answer the questions.

March 29, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Thomas_Wesley
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Very informative. Thank you!

March 29, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/CommeuneTexane

Absolutely!

March 30, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Dave759367

Great post - always helpful to understand the process, and illuminates why humans don't always communicate clearly with each other - there are so many options in interpreting what to say, or what was said.

March 29, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Thomas.Heiss
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Hello Tex,

If you are absolutely certain that your answer should have been accepted (no missing nor extra accent, no missing nor extra punctuation, no typo, no grammar error, etc.)....please click on the REPORT tab at the bottom of the page.

Yes, that is easy for German corrections in PT-DE (I am native speaker) and my PT-EN reverse course or for the DE-EN and EN-DE courses where I can make use of my hardware keyboard and correct letter layout.

But: I am learning Portuguese (BR).
This language, like any other Romance language like Spanish or French is using heavily accents/diacritics.

However, I NEVER type them into the answer box on the web portal as I currently do not use the PT BR windows keyboard.
I also never click with the mouse on the on-screen keyboard buttons (showing diacritics).
Too much time consuming (for me)! Not fast enough!
Usually my (PT) answers are accepted by the DuoLingo system anyways.
.
.
The default Windows keyboards IMHO do not align too well with my German Umlaut (aüö) hardware keyboard and default mapping (to use it for DE + EN in parallel to PT) and basically I would have to create/edit my own layout and appropriately map it to my German hotkeys.
So this will take time AND a very good day to do so.
Will not happen too soon in the next few months.

Therefore I will have to continue to write Portuguese (BR) sentences without accents into the answer box.

This will be even more important as I am doing right now the Portuguese-German (and English) reverse trees, where I will be forced on the web portal to write Portuguese quite often.
German answer for corrections (and umlauts) will be fine, but Portuguese?


Questions

Q 1: Is there any way to edit the PT BR sentence later and add diacritics before I report it as "accept alternative solution"?

Q 2: As DuoLingo always checks my normal letters and correctly interprets them WITH accents (e.g e vs é, a vs à) after I click the check button, is it not possible to report entered answer alternatives that way?
Duo already checked and told me that it can not interprete it correctly. So either it is wrong or alternatives are missing.

The text box is frozen and I can not edit my text anymore once submitted/checked!

Example: "e" means "and" and "é" means "is".

Q 3: How do course moderators / contributors receive alternative (correct) answers but when the sentence and words miss ALL the accents? (you can easily see that).

  • 3a) Do you still see that this might be a good alternative?
  • 3b) Do you edit it and add all the accents for yourself?
  • 3c) How does the "Duo system" match reported sentences without accents correctly with the same reported sentences from other users but with typed accents?
  • 3d) Will the sentence without accent somehow still be matched and ranked above?
  • 3e) I guess that will be a different error queue?

4) Final question:

I probably can give me own answer to the above.

As it is expected that the Duo system and contributors reported sentence ranking view (error queue) is not 100% "ready" to view alternative sentences without accents:

Can we please open a change feature request:

That the DuoLingo programmers please extend the very basic "report my answer as alternative" dialog that first a NEW popup dialog appears with your current entered sentence but *fully editable, so I could re-work all correct / REQUIRED accents in a Romance language before submitting it?

This change request would perfectly match with your own request from your introduction.

I honestly believe, that many users do like me and type sentences without accents, but still report when they see errors or missing alternatives.

Is DuoLingo staff and you and many other course moderators / contributors aware of that problem?

Thank you for your attention and time writing this FAQ!

Viele Grüße / Best regards from Germany

March 30, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/CommeuneTexane

Greetings Thomas.Hess!

Thanks for writing, what a conundrum! I'll try to answer your questions as best as I can.

Q1. No, there isn't a way to edit an answer after it has been marked as incorrect, but before reporting it. The best option is to probably ask a question in the sentence discussion.

Q2. I'm not entirely sure I understand the question. I can tell you that program is fairly lenient about accepting words without accents as long as the meaning isn't changed without the accents. Some words (as you noted) mean entirely different things with and without the accents. In those circumstances, it isn't counted as a "typo" but rather a grammar error. I'm afraid that there isn't anything we can do about that.

Q3. We look through the reports one-by-one. Most are not very helpful (very poor spellings, missing words, incorrect tense, illogical, etc.), but at times we see a report that otherwise should be included even though the accents aren't correct. We add the correct alternative with the accents. Typically future users will then have their answers counted as correct, but with an automated message to "pay attention to the accents." Answers that are correct (except for accents or minor typos) are colored "yellow" in the reports. That is counted as correct, but with a message to the learner. Answers that are currently counted as incorrect are colored red, and answers that are correct are colored green. We look at all of them when completing reports and we constantly edit sentences to make sure correct translations are accepted. Obviously, we can't put answers without accents as in fact "correct" because that would teach the wrong concept. Those answers would then appear to users in the lessons as "right." I think it is a good compromise for the most part, to allow words without accents as "typos" but still teach the proper form of the word.

Q4. This is a topic that will have to be addressed in the Troubleshooting forum. Personally, I would be against it. We would receive may false positive reports, because people would edit their answers, submit them, and we would be left wondering why it was counted wrong in the first place. Sometimes bugs do happen and genuinely correct answers are not accepted. (We have a few of them right now and it is frustrating for everyone!!) We would spend our days filing inaccurate "bug reports." It is better to know exactly what was entered and then see if it should be in fact be included rather than to see a false report.

As for me, I don't mind receiving reports that are otherwise correct except for the accents or punctuation as long as the meaning isn't changed. For example, if the 's to show possession is missing in English, it is simply wrong. It becomes a plural word, not possessive. If in French the à (at) is missing an accent, it becomes the verb a (have). We can't accept that; it is a completely different word. The incorrect translations would show to learners in the lesson and they wouldn't learn French/English properly. (Let me add that I don't mind receiving inaccurate reports at all as long as it looks like the person really tried to submit a good translation. Nonsense words, swear words, half-sentences are frustrating though!)

Good luck and if you do have Troubleshooting problems, please post those concerns in that forum. The mods/contributors do not program the code to Duolingo, nor do we make the "big" decisions. We simply work on the courses because we are passionate about the languages. We love doing this and watching others improve over time.

Liebe Grüße, Tex

March 31, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Trofaste
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What might work is if the report for the edited response was only sent if the answer is not in the list of accepted translations... But I would dread the annoyed "* YOU IT WAS JUST A * TYPO!!!!!!!!" Without the asterisks.

March 31, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/EL5tEL
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Again thanks so much for doing all of this work. I know that I've submitted some things I thought were right, only to figure out later that I was WRONG. Given there are more users doing the same thing that translates into a lot of work.

April 1, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/ycUvuSap
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Hiding this issue in an unrelated discussion thread like this might not be the best to get visibility.

March 30, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Ripcurlgirl
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It has been moved to the French forum. Merci.

April 1, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Dominion20

thanks for letting us know

March 29, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/NtateNarin
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Duolingo is awesome as I usually get an email that a sentence I reported that should be accepted, is now accepted. I always remember that there aren't so many people with each language tree, so I don't take it personally if these emails come in weeks or months later, or not at all (who knows, I may have been wrong!).

Thanks, Duolingo and keep up the great work! :-)

March 29, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/CommeuneTexane

"As soon as possible" can take a little time when there are 1000s of sentences, but we try! Thanks for your positive outlook and all your help by reporting problems.

March 30, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/elizadeux
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"Depending on the type of exercise, REPORT brings up part or all of this list of options:"

One of the problems that I've experienced is that all of the options are not listed for every exercise. In some cases, the option that I need is not available, so then what do you do? Plus, the option to write a comment when reporting to explain is no longer available either.

I generally make a comment in the discussion and note the date, but I'm not always sure if those are read by course contributors.

April 1, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/CommeuneTexane

The reason you may not receive a full list is because the not the options apply to each exercise. There used to be a "free write" option but that has been discontinued except for android, I believe. The best option is to probably write in the sentence discussions. We check the new reports daily and try to get to as many as possible.

April 1, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Klgregonis
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Is there a limit on the number of translations that can be added, and if so, how do you determine which ones to use?

April 1, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/CommeuneTexane

I heard the maximum was 8,000, but I'm not entirely sure...

April 1, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Trofaste
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3,000. ;)

April 1, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/JammyDodgie

1729 possible translations.

Why not add them all?

April 1, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/CommeuneTexane

We have. What's more, if we encounter/think of any more, we'll add those too.

April 1, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/deborah853655
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we need the ability to test out of the new system in French. The basics are way to basic and yet the levels just keep on repeating the grade one material. After 496 days and a completed old version tree, I think this new version is an insult to one's intelligence and commitment - very demotivating!

April 11, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Ripcurlgirl
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You are confusing the new French tree and the newly instituted Crown system and the two are totally unrelated. The French team of contributors have absolutely nothing to do with the Crowns - that is a Duolingo staff "upgrade". It is just unfortunate that A/B testing on the new tree (which has additional skills such as "Weather" & "Recent past") was pushed out at the same time. Once again, the contributors had no control over this timing also.

April 11, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/CommeuneTexane

It would be great to have the ability to test out of the basic levels in the new tree. This is an issue for staff as contributors can do nothing about that. If you would like to get their attention, you can file a bug report here.

That said, I hope you find some new skills further along in the new tree that are interesting and challenging.

April 17, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/deborah853655
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the new French format doesn't allow you to test out on the insanely basic levels with elementary phrases that just get repeated over and over and over ad nauseum. Completely demotivated me and has not taken into account the effort that some of us long-time learners have put into the course already. So we are set back to square one without the ability to test out of a boring skill. PLEASE put the test out back.

May 6, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/CommeuneTexane

If by format you are talking about the Crown system that is newly instituted on all trees and is how Duolingo will look. It is not something the contributors put in place, but rather staff. There are benefits and minuses with it as with any change. As far as testing out of levels, that too will have to be addressed by staff. The contributors do not have control over that. I am sorry that you are unhappy, but you do not have to repeat the old skills over and over ad nauseum. There is no requirement to get to level 5 on every skill or any skill for that matter.

May 7, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/JohnWood145534

Thanks Tex for all your hard work. Be aware though that few of these options are available on the iPad app. Basically you can report it as wrong or say there’s another problem (but without being able to say what the problem is).

Also, the annoying thing about being marked as wrong when you are not, is that you lose health and then have to stop the lesson before you want to (or pay to get more health or do ridiculously easy practice sessions which contribute nothing to my learning).

January 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/CommeuneTexane

That's incredibly frustrating!

I wish this was an issue I could fix. In the short-term, I suggest that you try the web version on a computer instead of the app when you run into problem sentences that that interrupt your lesson. There's no sense in repeating simple exercises that you already know.

You can also post this as a bug report (there really should be a way to what the specific problem is in the apps).

January 19, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/JohnWood145534

Thanks Tex. I understand the issue for you is that you get too many repetitive/unhelpful error reports, but the issue for me is the whole concept of Health and only having 5 "lives" a day when often 2 or 3 of those lives are used up by correct answers being marked wrong when they're not. I understand it's not an issue on PCs or the Android app (and Health can be suspended if I were to pay for DL Plus), but for me it's a pain having to boot up my PC when I really want to sit in my armchair and do lessons on my iPad.

January 19, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/CommeuneTexane

Believe me, it isn't for lack of will or laziness that some reports are not addressed right away. Currently Tree3 has over 1.3 million reports. Unfortunately from my experience, about 99% of them are not helpful (incorrect) so it can take a very long time to clear through them to find the valid reports. They are there, of course, and the feeling is a bit like finding a diamond in a coal mine.

With Duolingo's A/B tests and different platforms sporting different features, I don't know any other way around using a PC or android though when you lose health. On our end, we'll continue to add valid translations when we find them.

Good luck!

January 19, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Paul882324

Salut CommeuneTexane. I am in ever-increasing awe of the dedication and commitment of the French course moderators every time I happen upon an explanatory window into their world.

Thank you for this fascinating clarification. 1,300,000 outstanding reports ? I will certainly think twice in future before hitting the REPORT button ! Absolute and utter thanks and respect to you and your colleagues for doing a wonderful job.

It may be that Duo will have to re-think it’s model in the near future. It is surely unrealistic to rely on the good nature and expertise of a handful of volunteers to maintain such a vast resource ? The goal of being ‘free at the point of use’ is entirely laudable, and every effort should be made to retain it, but Duo must start to generate meaningful and sustainable income from more of it’s users, so that additional staff can be hired to ease the ridiculous expectations of, and pressures on, moderators and course contributors.

I don’t know if this is practical, but, perhaps, once users have demonstrated ‘brand loyalty’ by using the system for a lengthy period, those in affluent countires might be expected to pay at least a nominal subscription, even if it is only $1 per month, which would generate a very substantial income. It is always a better business model to take a small amount from many, rather than a larger amount from fewer ! ? I believe, (I hope not too naively), that a modest subscription from those who have already appreciated and benefitted from using Duo, might so incentivise users into ‘partnering’ the Duo mission of being ‘free’ to all those who really need it to be so.

Higher subscriptions, like the current Duo Plus, can, of course, be retained alongside.

March 8, 2019
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