https://www.duolingo.com/StepneyGre1

Revisiting hearts for the first time.

TL;DR - Dumbfounded and disappointed over earning/buying/using hearts to do lessons on the app.


As evidenced by my streak which began the day I signed up, I've been using Duolingo for 162 days. I told my wife about it when I started and mentioned it a couple of times since then. Every day I take time out to practice (Esperanto at first, now mainly Spanish) and I've always done this on my desktop computer. She's talked about maybe learning some Spanish and I've encouraged her to do that, but I've been careful not to make too big a deal out of it since it should be fun and I believe the motivation should come from within for best results. So it happens that today was the day she finally decided to join me and learn some Spanish. We had a long car ride and I played one of the Duolingo podcasts for her (Antártida). We had fun listening to it together. I could understand a fair bit of the Spanish, she was picking out Spanish words but liked hearing the language spoken and could follow the story in English. At the end of it she said. "Yes. I do want to do this. I'm going to get this." She downloaded the Duolingo app on her phone and started the lessons right then. It seemed like a triumph. Then she said she couldn't do any more lessons because she was out of hearts. I thought maybe she accidentally tried to test out of a level and used the three hearts that represent the mistakes but no, that wasn't it. She said they wanted her to buy more hearts or wait five hours or sign up for plus and all this nonsense which confused me. I thought there was some mistake. She put it down, discouraged, thinking it was just another "freemium" app, and I watched the enthusiasm just drain straight away. When we got home, I looked at her phone. Sure enough, she couldn't do more lessons without more hearts. There were something called gems which you could buy more hearts with - never saw that on the internet site - or she could "practice weak skills" to earn a heart followed, I soon found, by the option to watch an ad to earn another heart. This buys her a couple of more mistakes. I did the "weak skills practice" for her in order to get through it quickly. It was basically all the same questions from the lessons. By this time, she was over it and I could hardly believe what was happening. After talking this site up for nearly six months now it all came crashing down in minutes. This hearts system seemed outrageous to me and, frankly, antithetical to what Duolingo was all about (or what I thought it was all about). Plus, I felt like a chump for being such a salesman for Duo never even imagining she would run into this. Why would there be anything built into the app to prevent users from doing lessons or to frustrate or complicate their ability to do lessons? Why does the user essentially have to do lessons in order to earn hearts so that they can do the lessons covering the same material? Then, as soon as they're challenged with something new and prone to make mistakes on, go right back to lessons that don't count toward progress (aka "practising weak skills")? I found myself partly wanting to apologize for Duolingo (in the sense of explaining/defending it) because I still wanted her to join me in the language learning and partly I was infuriated by the whole thing which just seemed like pointless nonsense and way more pressure to "pay to play" than I've ever seen on the internet site. I titled this post the way I did because before writing it I searched for hearts-related posts and noticed a lot of the activity goes back a ways when they apparently were introduced, went away, then returned. I wanted to revisit the issue and put it back in the Duo discourse, but it was entirely new to me today; I had just encountered it for the first time. Users who've only used the app might not realize, either, that this doesn't exist on the internet site. I've upvoted some complaints about changes to Duo over the past few months, yes, but I've generally had the attitude that the service that the site offers outweighs all the pointless tinkering they do with it. I don't feel the same way about the app. That hearts aspect flat-out ruins it for me. She's probably done with it, too.

Also, since this is my first negative post about anything on Duo, I'd like to say for those that do think one shouldn't complain about what one gets for free or in light of the rampant belief expressed in the forums that Duo isn't that concerned about what the users want, they just roll stuff out and users can love it or leave it: It's worth bearing in mind that by being part of the Duolingo community, by writing or responding to posts (which can be time consuming), asking or answering questions, or even just telling other people about it because we use it - in short making Duolingo a place people want to visit or spend time at - we're contributing something to it. I don't pay money to use this site, but the time I spend here has the potential to add value to other users' experience here. Even just reporting an error is work users do to help improve the site. Duoingo should do what it can to accommodate users, not alienate and disenfranchise them. It should not embrace the model of giving a little to new users then, hoping they want more, immediately offer the option of paying for it or giving them bullsh*t to access it. The Duo mission from the About page includes "no premium content" but that kind of loses its meaning when different users have different experiences with it, some getting the lessons, others having to earn them. Of all things, I can't believe making someone wait 5 hours to do a lesson was ever even on the table at Duo HQ let alone incorporated into the app. There's gamification, then there's just plain WTF.

May 27, 2019

24 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/pentaan

A popular workaround

Delete the app and use www.duolingo.com in the browser of the phone.

Note:
Duolingo prefers the Google Chrome browser.

May 27, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/tilukonfdz

I'm gonna second recommending the browser version highly over the app. The app imho is worse by far.

May 27, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/MuchMyriad

I as well. While I've never downloaded the app itself, everything I've heard of it points to the website being the better option.

May 27, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/SkyeHaven

Ditto. The website works way better than the app, and you have way less adds and pop-ups

May 27, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/LingualLightning

Definitely. The app is horrible, and the lessons take so much longer because I can't type as fast on my phone.

May 28, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/LICA98

Why would there be anything built into the app to prevent users from doing lessons or to frustrate or complicate their ability to do lessons? Why does the user essentially have to do lessons in order to earn hearts so that they can do the lessons covering the same material?

because they want to stock up on $$$

May 27, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Sevenjetc

I think I have been using duolingo, first in the app, about 3 or 4 years ago. This is the reason why the app got deleted and now I am working purely on the desktop version.

May 27, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/ChevyBarnes05

Wait... is the health system now on android? I have it on my phone, but I like using my laptop (better quality, easier to use...)

May 27, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/MichaelMoore2004

Duolingo is testing the Health system with new users of the Android app. They announced this back in their April post in the forums.

May 27, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/tsuj1g1r1

The moment they bring this to the web browser version is when I really leave for good, streak be damned.

May 28, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/AliceValkyrie

Thank you. I agree completely. I just came back to Duo today after a fair bit of time away (last year(s) of college-I FINALLY graduated) and opened the app only to delete it about 15 minutes later. The new health system is awful. I didn’t mind the 3 hearts per lesson system or any of the other changes they made to make Duo more profitable (ads, testing cost on the app, etc) but this new feature singlehandedly ruined the app for me. I’ll happily put up with the slight inconvenience of having to sign in every day on the browser version of Duo to avoid the new health system.

I wish they’d get rid of it on the app-I worry that new users won’t know about the differences in the browser version and think it’s just another money-grubbing language app. It doesn’t help that the subscription is so (IMO) costly and there’s no lifetime membership option.

At least the browser version is still pretty great and we’re finally getting Finnish though.

May 28, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/NancyMihalich

A shower of Lingots for you to give your wife!

May 27, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/alpha3099

Holy block of text.

That said, this is just one of the reasons the Heart System is terrible. And it only gets worse the further along you go.

May 27, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/ESxF4

Does your wife have an old phone? My phone wasn't able to download the new version of the app, but there was an old version still available.

May 27, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/LICA98

well you can still download the old version even if you have a new phone

May 27, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Shelby.AM

How?

May 27, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/pentaan

https://www.howtogeek.com/313433/how-to-sideload-apps-on-android/

Please, read also about

.... if you’re going to install apps outside of the Play Store, make sure they’re from a trusted source like APK Mirror.

May 28, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Sevenjetc

Unless she has an iPhone, where this has been implemented a long time ago...

May 28, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/BigManTheo

That's so insane. They're turning Duo into a platform to make money. I need to hurry up and learn Spanish before they start asking for my bank details.

May 27, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/WeSa21

I feel maybe they should allow new users to have unlimited hearts for the first 2 hours or so. This is so they can get a feel for the app and get to try out the new language

May 29, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Millie59511

First let me say that this was a very sad thing that happened. And even if Duolingo won't say it, I will: I'm sorry this happened.

Now, this system of learning seems to be primarily a iOS iPhone thing. That is only iPhones have this lovely (<-sarcasm) way of learning. I don't have the heart system and I'm on an android. Others have wisely stated to use the web version. I agree wholeheartedly. Show her after some time has passed that she can still use her phone but not be chained to way of learning that's not benefiting her, or you.

But Don't Stop. Keep learning. Show that there is a way to use Duolingo that doesn't suck. The interest was there before and it can be cultivated again little by little. Share what you learn with her. Of course you know your wife and her emotional state better than we do. But for the hope of learning something new I hope you let her see that their are perfect strangers that care about her learning a language and growing in a new way.

Happy (future) Learning!

May 30, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Kitty2396

Seriously. Also, why are most people complaining about percentages instead of this? This is way more important.

May 28, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/George229674

I wish the site owners would use their heads and figure out how to make money off DuoLingo using POSITIVE goals, not NEGATIVE, punishing goals. They want to make money, Im all good with that (Im American, what can I say), just make it a special pleasure and people will open their wallets.

May 28, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/ProgrammerPlays

Is this only something on iOS? Never had this happen on Android. Also, the mobile version has LB's, which when I do Duolingo I love.

May 28, 2019
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