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  5. A suggestion of sorts


A suggestion of sorts

Every day, somebody will ask a common question on the forum, and every day somebody will tell them to use the search facility. Fair enough.

Thing is though, many people probably ask common questions on the forum because they want an up-to-date answer, and when using using the search facility (at least on my web version) the masses of results seem to be in a random date order.

It would make sense to have search results showing latest posts first by default, or to have the "sort by" option which is available for other parts of the site.

I realise that this would involve extra load, but it would be a nice touch if it could be a practical thing to implement. Thank you. :)

April 21, 2019



We should also be able to search usernames in the search box. I can't tell you how many times I would have liked to find something from either me or someone else if only I could search with their username to find my/their comments and topics. Following every discussion would be taxing. I save that feature for more important posts. I'm talking about posts I might have forgotten about that have long since died out on the forum.


HeyMarlena, this workaround would only work for your own posts and comments, but I know of a few users who add a specific chain of characters (long enough, and that makes sense only for them, so it will probably never appear randomly) to their contributions.

This way, a search engine can bring back to the surface every post containing the chain of characters, ergo every post they have contributed to.

I totally agree with you anyway.


Good idea. Same questions are repeated also because of new people joining on a daily basis. I was self-taught by googling and diving straight in, but some do need more help. Good thinking Davey.


This is a great suggestion! I totally agree that this would be a really wonderful thing to implement!

I'm a web programmer and database developer and admin, and this is the type of thing that is trivially easy to implement and places next-to-no load on the server. It's a simple question of adding an index to the database (which, if the database was designed properly, probably already exists because date fields are nearly always indexed.) and then adding a sort clause to the database query, and having some basic UI tweak to pass a parameter to the script handling the search to make it sort in that way.

I get the sense that the limiting factor in how Duolingo is run has nothing to do with server load or difficulty of programming, but rather, is limited by the team who has the skills and authority to do the programming and database design being overwhelmed with stuff to do, and being instructed by management to focus on other things.

I've seen bugs and shortcomings of this site persist for years that would be trivially easy to fix, while Duolingo develops extensive new experimental features that clearly took huge amounts of time to develop.

I also get the sense that the development process Duolingo uses is not "lightweight". Instead of having someone in charge with an attitude like: "Wow, this is a common-sense thing to do, let's implement it immediately." there is a feet-dragging approach in which common-sense ideas often get put on the back burner or even stamped out. They seem to want to test everything as an A/B test, and I could see them even subjecting something like this to an A/B test, and then deciding not to implement it because it "decreased engagement", perhaps because it decreased the number of pages viewed on the forum, which is a natural result if people were clicking around and searching though many different pages to try to find a difficult-to-locate thread.

It's not a question of load. It's a question of priorities, management, and design philosophy.

I don't really know what's going on behinds the scenes, cause I'm not in people's heads, but...from my perspective, looking from the outside in, it doesn't look like the people running this site have their heads screwed on correctly.


I am not a programmer but my desk is bulging under the load of the "you only have to..." type additional jobs others feel free to dump on it. What makes you think that it is different with Duolingo's staff? They might even be unaware of the good ideas (like this one) the users bury under thousends of posts about missing lingots or xp? Put enough needles in the haystack and nobody will find the really good ones.


I think it becomes much clearer when you discover that duolingo is a just part of a much larger organisation selling Pearson training courses. We're Guinea Pigs, and our payment is learning for free. I'm pretty sure even the ad revenue is very small beer to them.


oh my, conspiration theory in the making! Only because they cooperate in some fields with Pearson it is not necessarily Darth Pearson who holds the strings of the Duolingo puppet.


Well, pearson and duolingo are partners. No conspiracy theory there.

And the fact that pearson were losing over $2b, and duolingo have received $25m in funding from them is public knowledge.


Guilty on both counts. But why shouldn't Duolingo help others to improve their products and be paid for it? The employees want to get paid anyway. No need to see itas more than it is. As Freud said, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.


No reason at all. I'm just saying it explains a lot. Methinks you protest too much.


I completely agree - before adding new features, make sure that the features you already have work correctly !


@Thomas.Heiss, FieryCat: do you agree his views?


I am one of the somebodies who refers many people and I approve your message.


I am nobody, and I approve of your message. We need a Far Queue...


A suggestion of sorts

to have the "sort by" option

Nice work on the title :P.

To add to your great suggestion: while people are creating a discussion and writing a title, based on the title they write an automatic search could explicitly be executed in the sidebar (something that springs into the eye), this could "invite" people who create a thread to have a look at similar posts before submitting a new thread.

Is it important to draw programming resources to this? It could be in some ways, if it's effective it might disburden moderators a bit while it might also save people from getting disappointed when their thread gets down voted to hell when all they were looking for was some information.


@elvper: can you say anything about how difficult that is to implement? I think it is not even very likely that two users with same problem use exactly same title for their post. Also what about resources existing outside Duolingo? Maybe users find good solutions to their problems elsewhere.


I'm not at all an expert on this (not experienced, nor knowledged on this specifically) but as far as my knowledge goes, it should be fairly straight forward to implement. Shouldn't take much coding and probably doesn't require allocating significantly more resources.

Titles wouldn't necessarily have to be exactly the same, but indeed no system is perfect thus yes, not all the most relevant threads might appear every time. But even then if necessary some common terms could be pre-programmed to be bundled, e.g. synonyms, searching for "how to turn off ..." could also be pre-programmed to also return results for "how to disable ...". This could be done based on the most common search terms, as in not having somebody spend ages to create a gigantuous list of potentials but solely functional ones. (90% of all questions might relate to ~10% of all inquiry topics - just covering these should suffice)

If it's not on Duolingo yet, then it should definitely be ok for them to pose the question, no? It wouldn't be meant as a general question machine but simply show potential sources thereof on Duolingo. "oh hey, somebody posed that question earlier, let's take a look what people answered to that" before one submits their own thread.


We may be pushing the limit...I had a reply in kind and it got zapped. It involved multiple queues.


A sort of Far Queue multiple times?


Four queues...


Haha good one. Your joke might not get the appreciation that it deserves because it happens to be a slang word, but still a good find!


I didn't get it at first...


I hope the moderators never get it.


They're not 5 lol


Definitely agree with this suggestion!

I never tell people to use the search facility when they ask the exact same question already answered in detail and often only a few days since the previous time it was asked. However, the one and only reason I don't tell people to do this is because of what the functionality of the search feature is like...

The search feature really is pretty dire, especially in its current state after they nerfed the ability to use any operators in the search query (for who knows what reason)... Only a couple of years back, at least the following operators worked:


Also, some questions are asked so incredibly frequently that they should really be listed on a frequently asked questions sticky.

Even if the search feature were to be greatly improved, by now there must be such a huge number of identical looking threads all asking the exact same questions that it would still be hard for people to find which ones actually contain the decent answers. XD


Good idea! I think it would be great to have that! ~KD

"The secret to doing anything is believing that you can do it. Anything that you believe you can do strong enough, you can do. Anything. As long as you believe." -Bob Ross


they are posted by most popular order first and then you have to sort the way you like it. I like your suggestion for being able to search for comments. I try to track down the emails sent to me and at times is pretty hard to follow some comments and I often need to dig down to find the comments.


Anybody can create their own FAQ list. It's not even slightly difficult. You could even create a post here and call it a FAQ list. And search engine cloths pick it up.

Go for it if you want to...

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