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https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DouglasWin6

A Proposal to Remedy the All-or-Nothing Character of Streaks

The daily streak is no doubt intended to make well motivated learners even more intensely motivated. The learner starts with one purpose, learning a particular language, and ends up with two purposes that are closely aligned, learning the language and keeping his streak. I think this way of motivating learners is good. We're more likely to do something for many reasons than for just one reason, so if we already have a good reason to do something, it's good to be given an additional reason.

However, in months of browsing the forum here at Duolingo and the r/duolingo subreddit at Reddit, I've seen that the loss of a long daily streak is sometimes intensely disappointing. The greatest disappointment and anger seems to result from a supposedly unjust loss: Some people feel very disappointed if they lose a daily streak because they truly missed a day of practice, but they're embittered if they think they've lost a daily streak because of an error on the part of Duolingo's system, and they think Duolingo hasn't made them whole. In either case, the disappointment and anger may be all out of proportion to the actual event, which is merely a single day of practice missed, whether by the learner or by Duolingo's system.

But the linear form of the daily streak is also irrational, when the streak is considered in light of its purpose, to motivate the learner by putting a number on his long, steady attention to his task. It's easy to show this irrationality with an example: Alice and Bob are two people who joined Duolingo a thousand days ago. Each of them has practiced on Duolingo, at least a bit, on 999 of the last 1,000 days. Alice missed the second day of practice, but picked up on the third day, and now she's happy with her 998-day streak. Bob somehow missed a single day's practice only yesterday, and now, all that his streak counter does is to remind him that he once had a 998-day streak, and he lost it. Two dedicated, consistent learners have suffered two strikingly different outcomes. One has a 998-day streak; the other has a one-day "streak." One is looking forward to Day 1,000 in two days; that will be Day 3 for the other. As of today, both have practiced on 999 of 1,000 days.

To remedy the lack of proportion between learners' long-term dedication to learning a language and their streak counters, I propose that the streak counter either be replaced or else augmented by a simple counter of the number of days on which one has practiced on Duolingo.

February 4, 2020

15 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DouglasWin6

Here's our reminder that any random five users, out of millions worldwide, can effectively delete any post from the forum.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/2LearningSpanish

Hi Douglas, here is a post on XP that could have used some upvotes: https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/36429035.

The "days of learning counter" idea is a good way to describe what a lot of people would prefer to see displayed instead of the "streak counter." Thanks for your post!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DouglasWin6

I agreed that an experience point scale would make the experience point system more meaningful, so I upvoted your post. Thanks for pointing it out to me.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/HikingHeather

I've been saying the same thing for a long time because it's pretty clear people want an active days counter more than they want a legitimate streak counter. I'd be perfectly fine with them replacing it so I can see fewer streak obsessed posts.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DouglasWin6

I was sure I wasn't the first to say that the streak counter needs to be replaced or balanced with simple activity counter, and I'm glad we agree about it. Adding 1 to a counter for every day that someone completes an exercise seems much easier for Duolingo than dealing daily with the high stakes of streaks and the hurt feelings of streak losses. And an activity counter seems to summarize a learner's dedication much more than a streak counter. When you say on your profile that a streak doesn't mean anything, I have to disagree. But a short streak is impossible to interpret by itself, since an eight-day streak, for example, could belong to a beginner, someone who has returned to Duolingo after a long time away, or someone who had to miss one day's practice during the previous week. I think we agree it's more highly motivating to be recognized for everything that one has done, rather than merely for everything one has done since one's most recent day off.

I'd like to think Duolingo will see what seems so obvious to us.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/acute6

I like the idea of one's very own streak leaderboard. I'm personally learning for travel, and I'm sure I'll drop some days when I'm actually travelling, but I'd like to keep going afterwards, just for kicks.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MasterOfKrynn

All I did was read the title of this post, and I wholeheartedly agree on this however it is done. I can only use Duolingo in school. My streak should be a few years in now, but every weekend it resets.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DouglasWin6

Ouch! But it looks as if you're able to keep a streak going sometimes, since you're at 24 days right now. I'm glad you use the time well when you can.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Llama_Lingo

So, yeah, a total days count and a streaks-lists would be good. I would love to know how many days I have done total. It would be consoling in the scenario you described. Then you could compete against yourself to beat your longest streak.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/K4ttan

One can look it up on duome, but the daily progress raw data only goes back a couple months:

https://www.duome.eu/[USER NAME]

I generally agree with OP. I lost my first streak of 13 days because I didn't know I could freeze it. I literally was doing a lesson as fast as I could when the 12 o clock roll over happened....

And on the subject of freezes, it sure would be nice if the interface showed one clearly that the freeze was working, like by making the streak flame blue or something. When I did use one streak, I burned 20 ligots because I didn't think it was taking. There was no visual or text indication it was active.

Maybe in the app it's clearer, but on the desktop the ONLY indication is less lingots, IF you were watching them to notice.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Llama_Lingo

I think streak freezes might be glitchy because I've never used one deliberately, but got a message that I had.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/K4ttan

That is weird.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DouglasWin6

I'm glad you agree. It's a simple proposal, but I've had to work even to keep it in the public eye, as just a handful of un-countered downvotes are enough to render a post invisible.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Llama_Lingo

Some people think that some kids just randomly downvote things for kicks. Sorry you're having to work it.

Maybe find some sympathetic posters and post a link to this in other threads. In "12 Duolingers" https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/36396431 and "Whistle while you work" https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/36396520 threads, users Songve and SashNor1 have described their frustration over the difficulty in keeping a serious, well thought-out post alive. They might upvote you if you link and describe your struggle, too, although I don't know for sure. It's just come up a lot today.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DouglasWin6

Thanks for linking to some more places where I can leave comments, as that's been my tactic. I'm also about to link from a pertinent post on Reddit.

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