https://www.duolingo.com/ggeordiee

Duolingo has outgrown it's Discussion section layout.

Piling all of these threads into the three filter options of Popular/New/Followed is insufficient for the sheer amount of discussions going on. There is currently a bottomless pit of discussion threads, and you either have to stumble over something at random, or you know exactly what to search for. We need sub categories. Possibly even user generated categories that could be subscribed to. In truth I don't know the best way to fix this problem, but I do know this discussion system, as it stands, is barely workable, and will only get worse as more people start using the service. So does anyone feel at all the same? if so, do you have any ideas? we need to at least discuss what works, what doesn't and what needs to change to give the duolingo community adequate means to communicate form a proper community.

4 years ago

56 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/AlexisLinguist
AlexisLinguist
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My three suggestions:

  • A section for your personal posted discussions (so you don't have to sift through your followed discussions).

  • Filter by date (sometimes I want to find an older discussion, but don't want to search through the person's profile to find it -- especially for busy users).

  • Collapsible discussions (desperately need this, as replies can get lengthy).

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Luis
LuisPlus
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Sorry for not knowing, but what exactly do you mean by "collapsible discussions"?

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/AlexisLinguist
AlexisLinguist
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That's okay. Basically, it's a way to hide replies to a main message (so if this was implemented, only the messages to the discussion, not replies to those messages would be seen). It helps keep each discussion cleaner. :)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/_pinkodoug_
_pinkodoug_
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Luis, last year there were some posts from Duo staffers (Kristine, I think, and possibly even from you) indicating that the forums were going to be revamped and improved. I don't know whatever happened with that. It may still be on your to do list, and is just having to take a back seat to projects with higher priorities. Could you elaborate possibly?

If it is still in the queue, such a small percentage of the user base use the discussion forum, you could probably just remove it until the revamp is complete. I doubt anyone will mind that it's gone until it's completed "soon™", right?

cGlua29kb3Vn

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/AlexisLinguist
AlexisLinguist
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I would mind. :) I spend more time on the board than I do learning/reviewing languages. To have it deleted for a time (cough -- vocabulary tab -- cough) would be disappointing. It's not perfect right now, but it's manageable.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/_pinkodoug_
_pinkodoug_
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But that's exactly the reasoning given for removing the vocabulary tab. Few used it, it needed improvement, so just scrap it until a replacement is built soon(ish). That reasoning worked so well last time, why not apply it to every problem! Right?

(I know you're a native speaker, but since sarcasm doesn't translate as well across languages, let me be very clear for the benefit of others that may read this that my "suggestion" was made tongue in cheek. Wait, an idiom is probably not the best way to clarify. hmm...)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/AlexisLinguist
AlexisLinguist
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Sorry, fell for the lack of the sarcasm tag (seriously, took it the wrong way). Someone needs to invent something for that.

And don't worry, I got the idiom. ;) For anyone else, it means the suggestion was "not made seriously". :)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7
Usagiboy7
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@pinkdoug,

I think the revamp was the ability to subscribe to multiple discussion forums and have it show up in the same discussion stream?

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/_pinkodoug_
_pinkodoug_
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I don't know - I got the sense from some of the comments made last year that a completely new forum system was being considered. I wish I could point to some of the specific posts, but we all know how futile trying to find older posts with the search function is.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7
Usagiboy7
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I really wish the search discussion function would list posting dates with results. That would make sifting the search bar results a little more efficient.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/_pinkodoug_
_pinkodoug_
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@Usagiboy7 Agreed*10**100

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ggeordiee

If you look at how each reply branches out to the right, this is to distinguish what is in that comment thread and what isn't. Basically a button which collapses every reply in a particular comment thread would be handy because then you wouldn't have to scroll down for a long time to get to the discussion you're interested in.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/blizzard-spider

I think it is where not all the replies to a comment thread are shown (except perhaps the top ones), and if you are interested in the discussion you can press 'show more comments'. This means a user can decide themselves on how many comments are displayed and only read on if they are interested, so it takes up much less space.

...at least, I believe that is what's meant by 'collapsible discussion'. If that is indeed what was meant I think it's a good idea for helping make the comments more manageable. One quite large website which i know uses it is reddit, but I don't know how easy it is to implement on this site :)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Ricaloca

Luis, it's like that little plus/minus sign toggle button to the left of a comment on Reddit. If you make it a plus sign, the comments nested under that particular comment won't be shown. To expand the comments again, make the button a minus sign.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ggeordiee

The fact that this site still doesn't have collapsible discussions is a constant source of frustration. Something as simple as that would go a long way to streamlining the site.

A page dedicated to your own personal discussions is sorely needed too. Maybe even a separate page for just your comments that can be sorted by age, vote count, etc.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Nerdator
Nerdator
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Also, the 'followed' section sucks. I don't want to hold all the interesting topics there, because my e-mail will get flooded with comment notifications (which are useful at times, but not always and not on this scale).

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/keiru
keiru
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Now that we are on the matter, we could really use a "Culture" Section where people can reccomend books, films, webcomics, etc for both practice and cultural immersion

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ggeordiee

I think a section specific to culture would be really cool. It could even be a sort of one of the main 'umbrella categories' for other subcategories. For example, one subcategory could be for discussions relating to books, another for films, music, etc. You could post directly in the Culture main section, if you wanted to keep it general, or you could narrow it down to one of the subsections like Movies, Books, Music, etc.

At the moment if I want to search posts for books I have to (A): manually search through every post individually, or (B): do a search for keywords that I think might have come up in a discussion relating to books in discussions which are completely disconnected from each other.

With a few more main categories and smaller ones which branch off, then it would be as simple as clicking discussions > culture > books and browsing discussions that are all in the one place, related to your interests.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/keiru
keiru
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ok, i'm convinced we need a full-scale forum. Although not the original aim of this place, its clear it will spawn a vast community, and having a proper forum today is merely planning ahead.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/AabLevellen

I agree that something has to be done to help sort the general discussions. I once tried to find a particular discussion searching for some words in its title but in vain. All kind of interesting stuff came up, but not the discussion I was looking for. Eventually I found it by browsing, but that takes a lot of time and gets more and more difficult as time goes by. This is one of the reasons the same subject is reiterated over and over agian - nobody finds the old discussions!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/saschambaer
saschambaer
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I think there are exactly two big flaws with the current system:

  1. It does not support comment chains >6 comments. This is quite bad because 6 comments is nothing. This needs to be fixed somehow.

  2. The search engine is really bad. On other forums (e.g. reddit) I always search first before posting. Duo does not give me that choice. All I can do is search for a single word and see a bunch of posts in seemingly no order. No way to sort by titles only or oldest/newest/most popular first

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ElseHarp83

As it is, with all of these things jumbled together, I feel like I'm missing some very useful information. I think it would help if there were separate sections for:

  • Stickies of the most informative discussions (General & in each language)
  • Common beginner's questions (in each language)
  • Grammar points & study resources (in each language, or General with a language tag)
  • Culture, music, books & movies (in each language)
  • Personal accomplishments or stories, like "Finished my tree" or "First real conversation"
  • Updates or information from staff (Sticky, general)

This would probably require turning the Discussion tab into a full-fledged forum, though, which would be a pretty big undertaking. The staff is undoubtedly too busy with other aspects of the site to consider a project like that.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Nerdator
Nerdator
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Being able to mark and save favourite threads is a sorely needed necessity.

Currently, I have to keep bookmarks and even open tabs in my browser just not to lose some of the threads.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/vanar702

I definitely agree about Stickies; especially for 'Why isn't X language on Duolingo' for users unfamiliar as to how the Incubator works (and that X for English speakers will almost always be developed after English for X speakers is in Beta).

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Portofan
Portofan
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Thanks for bringing this up, I agree that the discussion system is a pain, because it's not possible to find stuff. My suggestions:

  • Options for searching specifically in sentence or normal discussions

  • Search for all discussions started by a particular person. In the language boards there are a few people who always post very helpful summaries and explanations, and it would be incredibly useful to be able to specifically find this type of post. Fulltext search for their names or browsing their profile don't do it.

  • a useful paging function, to be able to go far back in browsing discussions - the current automatic reloading system becomes unusable when the page has reached a certain size

  • a more targeted way to access sentence discussions outside of the lessons (e.g. sentence discussions associated with a particular skill)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/robert0n
robert0n
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I disagree about having collapsable discussions, certainly for the language topics anyway where most of the "topics" are people wanting answers. I think it would be better to follow the StackOverflow / StackExchange model of one tier of answers, each of which has one tier of comments.

See this post: Flat or Threaded

and this one: Flat By Design

The phpBB etc suggestion was a great idea ten years ago, but I am with Jeff Atwood that we have better alternatives now. One of them is his open source project Discourse

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/AlexisLinguist
AlexisLinguist
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Would it matter if the discussion was "uncollapsed" by default? Another option could be adding pages (like 20 messages a page --- flat design).

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Miguel992

I would like to see a section that only contains the topics started by members of the Duolingo staff. I think this would help by keeping update information easier to access. It should also help decrease the amount of repeat questions.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/bobidou23

Could there be a possible RSS feed of discussion topics? I don't know how many people work like me, but I like to collect everything I follow on the Internet in Feedly - maybe all the topics with more than a certain number of likes would make it onto the feed?

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/StuffieStephie
StuffieStephie
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I think an ability to tag threads would help, especially if users could track tags that interested them.

P.S. Not to be a grammar perfectionist but "Duolingo has outgrown its Discussion section layout." "It's" = it + is, "its" = belonging to it (possessive pronoun)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/alsocass

Here is my idea... have a special tab (forum, whatever) for accomplishments. Because they honestly just clutter up the discussion feed.

BUT they are important and motivational so have a small window, or perhaps a single changing topic on the page (a link to the accomplishments forum) that constantly displays recent accomplishments (or accomplishment announcements).

We get motivation without another "I have hit 100days" thread to scroll past.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7
Usagiboy7
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I don't like the idea of sidelining accomplishment posts. They are an essential component of the Duolingo community. Many of us were inspired by them and also provided resources to help others reach those places. If someone isn't interested in an accomplishment post, they can skip over it. I keep pretty busy. And before Duolingo created a system to subscribe to forums so they show up in the Forum stream I couldn't keep up with what was going on without feeling overwhelmed. If accomplishment posts were separated out, I probably wouldn't check them and not because I'm not interested. It's simply one more thing to keep track of that takes an extra click. It makes me sound lazy, but in a conversation like this, I should probably be frank about my reservations. hehe. :)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/alsocass

The problem is that the tree is dominated by accomplishment notifications, suggestions (and whining), and incubator status updates.

Rendering the discussions forums useless. Making those of us who turn up hoping for a productive language chat simply idiots for hoping.

In the first 20 topics of the main discussion today... only 3 are not related to those categories.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/_pinkodoug_
_pinkodoug_
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Self congratulatory streak/tree status posts, as well as other spammy topics like suggestions, wouldn't really be sidelined, though, if they're just moved to their own forum that users can opt-out of including in their discussion stream. The new forums could be called "Watch People Pat Themselves on the Back Here" or "See the Same Suggestion that Dozens of Others Have Already Made Rephrased Again and Again" or "Hey, I Just got Photoshop and Made a Nifty Mock Up" forums.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Dessamator
Dessamator
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I'd love if that happened. I enjoy a good criticism of a general Duolingo skill tree, or a nice discussion about completing it, and flaws and strengths it may have. However, people just blatantly putting up a big story about how they achieved this or that with no space for discussion aside from saying "great, well done, etc", just makes it all tiresome.

Anyway, KristineMC did indicate they would improve the sentence discussion.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/choeisa

Totally agree. And there are plenty of discussion sw available like phpBB or vBulletin.

phpBB: http://forums.gentoo.org/

vBulletin: http://ubuntuforums.org/

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/BillofKempsey
BillofKempsey
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There must be thousands of sites with discussion/chat forums which support much greater volumes of traffic than this one. Is it just a question of deciding which one would suit Duolingo best, acquiring the module and plugging it in?

That is probably too simplistic but re-inventing the wheel (=bespoke software) tends to be a big mistake and expensive. The UK government's efforts and failures in adopting that method tell the whole story.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/TanagerMoonmist

I have no constructive suggestions - I just have to say that this layout is a huge mess.
I don't know how it behaves on other browsers, but I'm on Opera and it keeps flashing, "jumping" up and down, and just generally being nigh impossible to use. :/

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/AlexisLinguist
AlexisLinguist
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Some sites are suited better for different browsers. I've been using this with Safari, and I have had no problems. Have you tried Firefox or Chrome?

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/TanagerMoonmist

Pffff, Chrome is, like, so mainstream. I use IE as my backup, like a real Internet hipster.

But yeah, it works a lot better in IE than Opera, which is a shame; it's my primary browser and I don't really want to switch to something else.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/AlexisLinguist
AlexisLinguist
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Without getting off-topic: If its speed was faster, I would've continued using IE on my PC, but I understand what you're saying. I hate having to switch browsers.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Jeanette525

I think a forum layout would be most efficient. I don't know anything about the technological aspects of implementing something like that so I don't know if it'd be possible, but I think it would work well.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/sannap
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I agree 100 %. The most important changes for me would be these two:

  1. Pages (maybe 20 discussions per page) instead of the endless scrolling down while browsing the discussions. I would like to be able to click a link to a certain page number or to the first/last page.

  2. The better organised forum structure could be something like this:

Duolingo: News/Updates (posts by admins/moderators only, users can comment), Troubleshooting, Ideas/Suggestions

General Discussion: Languages in General, Culture and Geography, Traveling, Education/Learning/Studying Techniques

Languages (topics focusing on one language, where natives can answer questions): English, Spanish, German, Italian, etc. (there should be also languages that aren't in Duolingo yet, to give users a place to discuss)

Had to edit my post, for some reason my lists didn't show up as they should have.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7
Usagiboy7
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Before the current design, the forums were separated out by language. Those forums were hardly ever used. Because of that, people couldn't rely on getting an answer. So, many people just started using the General forum for everything, even though they already had a specific forum for it. So, I'm not sure if reverting back would do more that re-create the previous situation.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/LoesVanBos
LoesVanBos
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but, it's still separated by language? :s

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7
Usagiboy7
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@LoesVanBos, the difference is that people can subscribe to a language forum and it will show up integrated with other posts in the Discussion stream. That was not possible before. :)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/LoesVanBos
LoesVanBos
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that's another thing. discussion stream is an extra, but one can still go into a single language selection, if that's what they're after. branching out into categories within a language still wouldn't prevent topics from showing on the main stream, for those who are into "mainstreaming" :P

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Ikamjh
Ikamjh
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There should also be pages people can make that have a series of their discussions. For example I was doing a series called the incubator standings. Another guy also had a bunch of suggestions that everyone loved... It would be great to be able to find these things more easily.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Melaninja
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About time someone speaks up!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/vanar702

Maybe also the ability to create 'private' discussions/threads/chats for groups of people you invite? I am thinking mainly about school students who learn on Duolingo, who sometimes try to start a discussion for their class that few people see/reply to. Perhaps something for a later time though, it's not really a pressing issue.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/LoesVanBos
LoesVanBos
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I feel the same. Current layout is a mess.

Although I'm emotionally attached to good old phpBB, doubt it could be easily, if at all, integrated with Sentence topics and mobile apps. Any other change in the layout would also probably require complete restructuring. Discussions as they are now could be made better, though.

First of all, although background picture and icons are very cute, functionality should come first; the way it is now, "Discussion stream" takes only a minor portion of the screen (if the second column must be there, it could be much smaller, but it would be much easier to put the language selection on top instead, and give discussion its full width), and even within it a lot of space is taken by profile pic circles and clouds listing the number of replies - topics should be the main focus, not the avatar of the person who created it. Would be great if aside from the topic name we could get the first line of text, to know what we're dealing with before even opening one, sort of like we have after performing search now.

Introducing categories by topics would be smashing and make usefulness of this section skyrocket, but even without it, there could be more filtering than there is now. There is obviously something in place that tracks when topics were created, so why not make the observed time range customizable? Or at least give more predefined filters than just Popular, New, and Top All Time.

Should it come to introducing new options, I vote for simple categorizing. Like we can pick the language of choice and open a topic within it now, we could be able to go into the language of choice, then select a predefined category (like Travel, Culture, Grammar, etc.), and just open a topic there, without messing with tags.

Oh, and the threaded view sucks. There is already an option to quote, no need for layers of replies and sub (sub sub sub) replies.

TL;DR, I know :P

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ggeordiee

Thanks for the awesome ideas!

I completely agree with your point that improving the filtering would hold the most amount of improvement with the least amount of pain. A complete overhaul, or even a substantial reshaping, of the layout is probably out of the question for the time being, but adding filtering options could be implemented relatively easily. It would boost the usefulness the section dramatically without changing anything structural.

I also think having a line of text or something to indicate what's in the thread is something which is sorely missing and again not something that requires a massive overhaul.

The categories by topics is my #1 request. It would go so far to improving the functionality of the discussions and I think would vastly improve the community aspect of the site, which for something like duolingo i think is vital. If my interest is in culture and films, then I'm more likely to hang out in those particular topics. Then I'm going to interact with other like minded learners who have the same language problems and solutions, particular to my prefered topic.

I think if duolingo wants to get by without any typical lessons, it will need to allow the discussion section of the site to take up more of that slack. People need to talk to one another to get the right answers. Before it can do that, however, the section's functionality needs to improve significantly. I think introducing categories by topics, even if at first just an extension of the current filtering system, would go a long way to improving the discussions.

TL;DR: Yes, categories by topics and improved filtering!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/AbbyRoad_

I agree, I don't even really use the discussion section because of this :s

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/GustavAlter

He is rifhgt, duolingo need NOW, improve the discussion page. Ojala se haga en el corto plazo!

Au revoir

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/LoesVanBos
LoesVanBos
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While we're on a roll: PRIVATE messaging.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/dbzlotrfan
dbzlotrfan
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I'd think once more languages are added they should be split by language family.

  • Germanic -- North Germanic --- Danish --- Norwegian --- Swedish --- Faroese (If ever added) --- Icelandic (see above) -- West Germanic -- East Germanic

Etc. Etc. Etc

4 years ago
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