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The malpractice of measuring "streaks"

I don't like the "streak" thingy, I think it highlights the wrong measure. Is learning 90 days in a row (with 1 lesson/day) better than learning 5 days a week with 100points a day?

There is no wrong in taking a break from learning from time to time. On the contrary, it is actually important in order not to wear-out.

I have been using Duolingo for about a year now. Practicing on daily basis 30-60min a day. I do take a break any weekend or so, so I don't think my "streak" during that year has ever exceeded 21.

It means nothing.

Generally, I wouldn't mind having such an indication. The thing that bothers me, is that it might send the wrong message: it might motivate people to do a lesson every day just to "keep the streak" rather than to learn (similar to those who were translating sentences just for the sake of collecting coins; especially, when certain benefits are given to people with a long streak, like participating in a beta..).

I believe that the different "accomplishments" should be considered from a pedagogical point of view, and I just don't find a way to justify streaks.

(originally written as a comment, but I thought it deserves its own discussion)

May 14, 2013



I started a related discussion here: http://duolingo.com/#/comment/379799. The answers given by users there made me change my mind a little: streak is not the only motivational tool, but one of them, and its purpose is to make you do at least a little every day. To motivate you to do more there are coin stacks, levels, skill point competition with your friends and the language tree itself.

Personally, I find that without keeping the streak (not necessarily on Duolingo but elsewhere) I am not as successful. I liked the article referenced by mrforster1uk: http://lifehacker.com/281626/jerry-seinfelds-productivity-secret. In fact, I even signed up at https://chains.cc/ and started a few "chains" or "streaks" of my own including a chain of doing French exercises from the textbook every day. Before, I often skipped days and these breaks happened to be too long. Indeed, if you have already skipped three days, what difference will it make if you skip the fourth? But streak helps you to do at least a little every day, the more the streak, the more effective it is: you don't want to break the chain.

I think that streak works well for many people. For those who are disciplined enough to keep their own schedule, streak does not do any harm.


I agree. I keep coming back every day just to keep up my streak. Those who are naturally disciplined (unlike myself) don't need to have a "chain" to preserve. For others (like myself), on the other hand, it's an incentive to put in regular practice.

@ran_g Like you said, just learning works best for you. As long as you are learning, you shouldn't care about "streaks" and what not. Streaks, points, levels, badges whatever mean absolutely zero in the real world. Just take pride in your ever-improving facility with the language you're learning


I saw your thread - this is where I wanted to place this comment at the beginning. (: I agree this could be motivational tool for some people. I found myself running to the computer one day, after coming home late from work, rushing through a lesson just to keep a streak (eventually, i found out i was too late, as my streak was already 0, I guess a "day" is according to some time-zone which is not mine..) I then realized chasing after the streak was stupid, and I should just let it go and focus on learning. For me it works best to take a day off every now and then, and try not to be de-motivated by my "low" streak.


The streak is a useful motivational tool. I, personally, find it useful to keep me coming back day after day. This is backed by all the advice that I have read both on this site and on others that in order to succeed at learning a language you have to work on it EVERY SINGLE DAY.

Of course people are going to slip, life is always chucking spanners at your well laid plans and good intentions, and when that happens you are motivated to start rebuilding your streak number.

I think a lot of the negative comments about streaks, in a counter intuitive sort of way, actually prove how motivational the streak number is. If these people really thought that streaks "meant nothing", "couldn't be justified" and they really "didn't care" about them, then it's doubtful that they would be motivated to write multi-paragraph comments telling us how much that they don't care and how meaningless they think streaks are.


Spanner: British; a wrench. (I had to look it up)


Just add a percentage next to the streak showing the % of days we have practiced within a period of time (month, year, something). That would show something meaningful. Right now I have 6 in a streak, though my percentage for the month is something like 90%.


I've said this before and I'll say it again- the streak totals on our home page should be optional. If you don't agree with it and get no benefit from it , you should be able to opt out. Another possible compromise would be to have learners lose one point for each day they are not on Duo. For example- if you have a streak total of 20, and have to take care of a sick child or fly to San Francisco for work, then you would lose one point for each day . If you are off the site for four days , then your new streak total would be 16. There is no reason to drop streak totals to zero, especially since probably way more than half of days missed, are because of a non- planned schedule changes. it would also raise the black moods some learners get after seeing their streak total crushed. What about it Duo. team?


Streak is by definition the number of days in a row. Otherwise it is not streak but something absolutely different.

Streak is only valuable because it can be crushed. It also encourages you to plan in advance: if you are likely to come home very late, you can do some exercises in the morning or during lunch break. You can do a practice round on your iPhone (and Android phone soon, too) while you are on you way, at the airport, at a café, wherever. Earning a few points is possible in most cases. Note that the current "all-or-nothing" streak will make you think about it while your suggested option will not. With the risk of losing only one point for a missed day it is much easier to be lazy.

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