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Arbitrary Translations / Typos

I have been greatly enjoying studying Spanish with Duolingo. It is an exceptional resource that has already helped me to greatly increase my facility with the language.

Having said that...

I am frustrated to the point of rage-quitting Duolingo over the seemingly random, arbitrary and whimsical nature of which translations / typos are recognized.

Sometimes, Duolingo is looking for a straight word for word transliteration. At other times, it will only accept the corresponding - paraphrased - English idiom.

I should note that at some point back in my tree, I abandoned the use of the iPhone app. It is simply too easy to sus out and select an accepted translation. The website is much more (I say too) challenging in that few cues are offered as to what is being sought. It is, however, the open-ended nature of working through the website that - in my opinion - provides the best educational experience.

I have experienced frustration with obviously correct translations being marked wrong from the beginning of the tree. Things were simple enough then to make a couple of mistakes and still complete a lesson. Now, I have to accept that it will take a minimum of three, four or even five attempts to complete a lesson. Because of this I am increasingly less motivated to use the service.

More frustrating for me is the random nature of what is and is not classified as a typo. Hey Duolingo, if I type "ther" it's a pretty safe bet that I meant "there". 'k? Lots of common typos are spotted, lots are completely ignored, but too many obvious typos are classified as incorrect.

I'd love to help grease the skids for future Duolingo users and provide feedback as often as possible, but wonder if this isn't a waste of my time.

I love Duolingo. Help!

May 2, 2013



Hi! Thank you so much for all this honest feedback. We take a lot of time to read these threads and do take member feedback seriously. I want you to have a better experience. To answer your questions- So, for some people, the app is easier than the site (because the words are visible as you describe). If you write a translation that you believe should be correct, but was marked in error - please report it below the sentence. Our team of language experts review all of those reports, and will get back to you if the answer you suggested should be accepted. We allow one typo in a sentence unless the typo is an actual word. We need to make 'ther' an accepted typo. As you mention, it is marked as an error (we are changing that!). Appreciate you letting us know. Please keep this feedback coming!


I think we're lucky typos are caught at all. It would be impossible to account for every possible typo, so I'm grateful any time I get away with one.

I generally agree about the iPhone app. I only use it very occasionally, even though I think it has a very nice interface. I just find that it's much easier, pretty much solely because of the "drag the words into place" exercises. It's so much harder to drag the words out of your brain than from a small set presented in the exercise!

As for being marked wrong on things you are sure should be considered right... there's not much you can do except report it as "my answer should be accepted." I've done this numerous times and in many cases those answers are now accepted. At least you'll be making the experience better for others (and for when you practice/repeat things in the future).


I just consider myself lucky if I do get away with a typo. I'm pretty sure I'd be marked as incorrect in a traditional class as often as I am by Duolingo. As far as being marked wrong when I think I'm right, I always report it. I've had a large number of my suggestions accepted so we are being listened to and I appreciate it that I am notified about it.


Agree.Maybe some languages with conjugaison ,duolingo should be more tolerent with beginners ,but for english I'm not very supportive of letting those mistake go,or it would be a problem rather than a merit.


Thank you all. Great service and community. Warts and all!

  • 125

One thing continually mystifies me on Duolingo. If my (as I believe it) correct answer is marked wrong, I click "Report -> My answer should be accepted". Takes two seconds. A couple of days later, I usually get an email saying "Thanks! Your answer is now accepted." Great! But sometimes I'll check the discussion because I see there are lots of comments and I think maybe there's some grammatical point I missed. Then I see 10 people complaining that their answer was not accepted! I don't know, maybe it's more cathartic to complain than to report the error, but (1) it takes longer and (2) it generally doesn't fix the problem. Or perhaps it's a UI problem, and the "Report" button needs to be more prominent?

As to the typos, I've noticed that generally I can't get away with it if the typo is identical or close to another real word. So yes, maybe you meant "there" when you typed "ther", but it's equally possible that you meant "the" -- the edit distance is the same and Duo isn't psychic (yet!). But as someone who suffers from "fat finger syndrome" I am grateful that Duo does forgive a lot of my typos.


There may be several reasons for the complaints you mentioned:

  1. A user is not sure if his/her answer is correct. I often do both, though: if I am not sure, I report the sentence, add something like "please check this, I'm not an expert" and then post a comment to get some answers from the community.

  2. When you are the first to discuss a sentence, there is a visible recommendation not to use discussions for reporting mistakes; but if the thread is not empty, it is not shown. Because of that some inexperienced users may not even know discussions are not for reporting. I'd suggest the team to always keep this warning.

  3. The reporting option has experienced a few changes since it was first introduced. Some of the comments may be from the time when it was not available for all types of tasks.

  4. Some people just like to complain and don't care much if their posts add any value to the community. Who knows, maybe they even report the sentence and then go to the discussion to complain %)

  • 125

I think that case (1) is an excellent use of the discussion feature and have seen very useful discussions which explain what's correct and why. My post was more about threads that go "this is wrong! / I agree! / Me too!" etc.

I agree strongly with you on (2): if the first person ignores the warning, it's easy to end up with a big useless me-too thread, which just helps to convince people that the discussion feature is the right way to report bugs.


Your feedback and suggested translations are definitely not a waste of time. The more valid suggestions we make, the better Duolingo becomes. Besides, it is not hard at all to click "Report → My answer should be accepted".

Learning with the help of a resource that is not yet as polished as you would want it to be is sometimes frustrating, but at the same time it is so rewarding to get messages that your suggested translation is now accepted!

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