I translated this as "Does anybody have any ideas?" and was greeted by an "Oops". But my translation is right. I support this assertion by a quote from Chapter 9 of Maiden & Robustelli's A Reference Grammar of Modern Italian: "Qualche always precedes the noun and is invariant for number and gender. The noun is always singular, even though the sense is usually plural (in this respect it might be compared with English 'the odd problem' = 'a few problems'). Gli occhi cercano un posto dove riposare per qualche minuto all'ombra. 'The eyes look for a place to rest a few minutes in the shade.' Ha qualche amica a Roma. 'He has a few girlfriends in Rome.'"
That's some great research :) You're right! Both ideas and idea work, because both phrases mean some unverified number of ideas! Here's another example of how qualche idea can be used:
- Hai qualche idea di cosa ha in mente? Do you have any idea what he has in mind?
- Ho qualche idea per voi. I have some ideas for you.
So it all depends on context.
Your response leads me to one of my frustrations with so many of the tasks we are asked to perform in the Duolingo approach to learning to translate: the lack of context for the standalone sentences. I believe each sentence for translation should be preceded by a brief indication of context. For example: "Sarah has locked her car keys in her car; she asks her friends, Qualcuno ha qualche idea?" The most natural translation would be "any ideas". But here's a different context: "Arriving out of breath at the bus stop, Sarah asks someone standing there what time the next bus arrives: Qualcuno ha qualche idea?" Here you would expect "any idea". This simple contextual approach would cut down the frustration of learners receiving an "Oops" when they know their answer is right for the context they imagined. At your end it would the reduced negative feedback would increase learner motivation and also spare the people creating the database of acceptable answers the need to try to imagine every possible translation. Wouldn't it be more motivating for teachers and learners not to have all those "we now accept your answer" messages?
That's a great idea! We do try to give context when possible, but imagine translating a paragraph just to make the translations more specific. A lot of users would get frustrated! On top of that, the sentences are structured around words that have already been taught, but if only 20 words have been taught so far, it would be difficult to construct a scenario. Most importantly, Duolingo is based on crowdsourcing. Simplicity is a philosophy that pervades the whole site.
At the moment, both options are available. For those who want to build a good foundation through repetition and approaches that cater to different learners, the lessons are pretty good. For those who want context and complexity, the translations are better. Sure, some things still need to be tweaked, but we're taking all your suggestions into consideration!
I hesitate to become once again involved in this discussion since I find it very frustrating to talk to the people at duoling, who think something is a bad idea because it involves work (even when I have provided abundant examples in almost every grammatical topic of how simple this would be to implement, in English, as you have rightly observed). But people educated in a "multiple choice" education system would rather provide embarrassingly stupid multiple choice non-questions, especially if they have pretty pictures. They cannot see that work invested in creating contextualized prompts will reduce the work in stocking a database of "correct" answers almost without limit. And you don't need to be a linguist or a philosopher to understand that meaning only exists in contexts. Otherwise, we're just pushing around empty tokens. But I wouldn't waste any time on this topic: they won't change. Personally, I get a little bit of improvement in my Italian, duolingo being a minor supplement to my main approaches to learning a language.