The Point of Duolingo in General
Lingots, no lingots. Crowns, no crowns. Followers, no followers. What does it all mean? Not very much, actually. The original purpose of Duolingo was to provide language knowledge to the common user for free. They have always done this, regardless of changes or levels or lingots. What a great business model! Very few companies have done the same and succeeded so strongly. Duolingo as a company also runs on the opinions of their users. In fact, as a service for the common people, they are also a sounding board for what the common user wants. And that is absolutely great.
What is the real objective of a user here, like you or me? To learn. We are able to choose any language we desire, and work on it as much or as little as we please, we have our preferences, etc. At the end of the day, what matters--your said "level", lingots, golden tracksuits? No. Not at all! The only thing that matters on Duo is exactly the same as the original purpose of Duolingo itself. That is, the raw amount of knowledge and understanding that you have gleaned.
Badges, levels...these are all extras. They don't have to mean anything according to your actual ability. Sure, the company tries to make them as accurate as possible. That is excellent! But what really matters is what you learn every day. You can even choose to not learn every day. This is why Duolingo is great....it fits almost everyone and their needs.
Among all of the improvements, downgrades, or anything else, no matter how you see it--let's remember what a great organization Duo as a company actually is, and have a bit of patience. At the end of the day, their goal is to help us learn better and excel in our language journeys. That is great! So I wish the same and the best to all of you.
However, Duolingo is built specifically on the gamification of learning languages + it's free! So...removing the whistles, breaking some of the bells...I think some of the annoyance is justified, and I don't necessarily wish to police users who do feel that Duolingo is lacking, because enjoyment of this site, and its mobile app, are subjective.
It's okay to have dissent in the community, that's what keeps things moving. If we were perfectly okay all the time, Duolingo would never try to change anything at all... Duolingo, at the very least, understands that complacency does NOT work.
Lauriana, thanks for another thought provoking post! Have you watched the Ted talk in which Luis Von Ahn originally introduced the goal of concept of duolingo? https://www.ted.com/talks/luis_von_ahn_massive_scale_online_collaboration The original goal of duolingo was twofold. To provide a. free access to language learning and also b. to translate the web through massive online collaboration. After watching this video it is clear to me that duolingo has in fact changed its goals and mission, at least part b. I am not saying this is good or bad, and I wasn’t a user during the days of immersion, but duolingo has definately changed its original focus and abandoned the mission of translating the internet. The thing I find interesting is that it is obvious that duolingos method of teaching, by translation, seems directly linked to this goal. Duolingo is no longer training translators, yet retains this teaching methodology.. with the expeption of stories and bots.
Anyways, the program is free and I appreciate that, but as they say if a product is free you are the product. This is true for all ‘free’ internet services, be it facebook twitter etc. I think of duolingo as an ethically minded business and in fact I applaud it as I think more businesses should have ethical goals, but it is a business none the less, with the motive of making a profit.
Here is an interesting article on the business aspect of duolingo, its mission statement, and how decisions are made based in ab testing using “the one metric that matters” most for duolingo as a business, which is “daily active users”. How many people log in a day is the most important factor duolingo looks at in making decisions, hence streaks etc. https://www.fieldboom.com/blog/duolingo-growth-strategy/