https://www.duolingo.com/miguelthebrave

The quality of Duolingo courses

I love seeing people comment with actual discussions about the context or grammar of a sentence or even whether or not a potential alternative translation is a native sounding one that should be reported in order to improve the course. I envision a forum where I can find insight into the beautiful intricacies of someone else's language; a place where I can feel confident that I can ask an honest question and receive an honest answer. However, I have a feeling that simple misunderstandings get in the way of this kind of forum.

There are two common misconceptions that I see pervade many discussions:

  1. Paid Duolingo employees and algorithms do not create all courses on Duolingo. With the introduction of the incubator some years back, unpaid volunteers take time out of their busy lives to contribute to something that you should be thanking them for doing for you.

  2. Complaining about the quality of a sentence or the fact that you didn't get an answer right never improves a course but rather only perpetuates you being a negative or whiny person. Discussing whether or not other native speakers of one of the two languages of the course agree that you should report an answer as being acceptable does have potential to improve the course. Contributors to any of the courses are normal human beings that won't ever be able to think of every possible translation. Human language is far too complex and flexible to do so. That's why you can report all the creative and viable translations you can think of.

It's sad that I don't really want to look at the discussions when I don't understand a Chinese sentence because there are so many ugly, hateful comments. It's sad to see so many upvotes on things like 'Wow. This is so bad.' It's sad that the forums can occasionally feel like a hostile environment to people who are learning instead of an environment where you are allowed to ask questions and have unpopular suggestions for improvement. I feel bad for all of the ungrateful Duolingo users out there that don't know how to be thankful for such a valuable commodity that has been provided to them at no cost - surely their lack of gratitude perpetuates a sad and bitter lifestyle.

Do you think it would be at all possible to make it more clear to every Duolingo user that their positive constructive feedback helps the unpaid volunteers to improve the quality of the courses for future users? Am I the only one that is bothered by negative comments that do not come with a suggestion for improvement? Would any other users back me up if I decided to be more vocal about redirecting unhelpful comments?

I assume that Duolingo has considered many ideas for how to improve the organization and moderation of our forums (thank you moderators) and I do greatly appreciate the tweaks that have been made in an effort to improve the user interface and atmosphere. I hope that my post is seen and considered when discussing changes to the forum in the future.

Thanks for reading my rant. Miguelthebrave out.

tl;dr Use the report button when you think something should be changed. Be grateful for what volunteers have done for you. Encourage other people to do the same.

April 15, 2019, 7:39 AM

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