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https://www.duolingo.com/AndreasWitnstein

Dealing with incorrect ‘correct’ solutions

AndreasWitnstein
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When Duolingo's ‘correct solution’ to a sentence is incorrect, there needs to be a way to proceed without answering it incorrectly or losing a heart. Otherwise, users will actively unlearn the language by practising mistakes.

When a user reports that the ‘correct solution’ to a sentence is incorrect, the user nevertheless loses a heart, making it likely that the user will be kicked back to the start of the lesson, only to be presented with the same sentence again. In this situation, the user has only a limited choice of action: (1) Try a different actually correct solution and hope Duolingo accepts it; (2) Give the same actually correct solution again at the cost of a heart; (3) Start the lesson over in the hopes that the sentence won't show up in the next run through; (4) Deliberately give the incorrect but supposedly correct solution; (5) Wait until the problem is addressed, if ever; (6) Give up and drop out. Of these choices, only the first is productive. Trying to find a different solution is good practice for the user, and may also provide an opportunity to report additional errors. But there may be no actually correct answer that Duolingo accepts.

Here are some suggestions for how to solve this problem:

  1. If a user reports that the ‘correct solution’ to a sentence has an error, don't deduct a heart, especially if some fraction of other users have reported the same ‘correct solution’ as erroneous.

  2. In the dialog for reporting a problem with a sentence, offer a checkbox ‘Skip this sentence until the reported error has been reviewed.’

  3. If the user supplies the same supposedly ‘incorrect solution’ again after reporting that the ‘correct solution’ has an error, don't present that sentence to the user again until it's been reviewed by Duolingo staff.

5 years ago

14 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/chilvence
chilvence
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Actually, this one is doubly frustrating on the app version because there isn't even a way to appeal for a mistake there.

I use duolingo exclusively on my phone - even when I am sat at my computer, because I can use my computer to do other things at the same time that way. It just 'feels' better that way, like a pocket dictionary or a phrasebook, and since it is so tedious to load the webpage, find the same lesson, and then hope to get the same question again just to give feedback, I simply don't.

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/AndreasWitnstein
AndreasWitnstein
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It sounds like a first step for improving the app, then, would be to add a facility for reporting errors.

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Amerath
Amerath
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I take a screen shot of every error that I find in the hopes that I will eventually send an email to duo explaining each problem so it can be corrected for other users. But because there is no direct feedback for the lesson and the feedback section on the iPhone app doesn't allow you attach images directly it is difficult. I understand that they say you should attach images to the confirmation email that duo sends you but this requires a great deal more work.

I would also appreciate being able to view the discussions that are attached the each question as I find it interesting to review the problems and explanations for different answers even if I got the answer correct myself.

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Subbiebr
Subbiebr
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I just went through Portuguese (I'm a native) and found loads of mistakes, some very "machine-translated" mistakes too. Reported them all

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/AndreasWitnstein
AndreasWitnstein
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Thanks!

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/AnnaRosa_C
AnnaRosa_C
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I think it's definitely a problem but I am afraid none of your suggested solutions would help. I think there are way more people thinking that their answer is correct when it's not than actual mistakes that people are reporting. I am afraid people would just abuse the ''report'' option every time they would encounter a difficult sentence which would make them complete the lesson without learning the correct solution or make it possible for them to skip a sentence that they don't want to learn.

I think the best soluton is for duolingo to review the reported mistakes faster (and add the report button in the iphone and android apps). Or maybe they could also ask native speakers to help them sort through the submitted reports.

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/AndreasWitnstein
AndreasWitnstein
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I would assume that Duolingo users are here to learn. But if it's true that some users would just try to game the system and thus overburden the staff, that's an easy problem to solve within the game paradigm, by penalizing miscorrections and rewarding true corrections. For example, a user could gain or lose points for each accepted or rejected suggestion, respectively, where the size of the deduction could increase with the user's number and proportion of rejected suggestions. Or there could be a limit on the number of averted heart-losses per lesson or block, where the size of the limit could depend on the user's relative numbers of accepted and rejected suggestions.

Since users can already report errors, it'd be interesting to have staff weigh in on the proportion of miscorrections to true corrections. I've certainly been finding a wealth of mistakes, especially in later lessons vetted by fewer users, and have been getting a steady stream of suggestion-acceptance emails. Languages are extremely complex and versatile, and it's quite unreasonable to expect Duolingo staff to get every sentence right the first time, and completely unreasonable to expect them to get every correct sentence the first time.

Getting users to help is a superb idea, and will be essential if Duolingo is to expand to more languages, where the current model can't scale with the combinatorics of language-pairs. But that should perhaps be a separate discussion.

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/AnnaRosa_C
AnnaRosa_C
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I think the problem is very similar to the problem with immersion where people are submitting incorrect translations just to get more points and users that have worked hard on them get emails how their translations have been replaced. The same algorithm that is going to fix things there could also be used with reporting mistakes. Of course it would be possible to implement the solutions that you suggested but it seems it would be much easier if duolingo had more people checking the reports and approving other correct translations, so it doesn't take two months for them to be accepted.

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/AndreasWitnstein
AndreasWitnstein
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Hmm… So maybe that's why I've seen “translations” under immersion where people have simply copied paragraphs of the source language without bothering to translate a single word, or pasted in incredibly bad machine translations.

I think it's going to take both more-sophisticated algorithms and more people to make Duolingo work more efficiently.

So, what is “the same algorithm that is going to fix things there”?

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/AnnaRosa_C
AnnaRosa_C
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I don't know, I am just assuming they are working on it. I have seen suggestions that the reached level and the time of joining the site should affect it, but I am not sure if they are considering it.

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jfGor
jfGor
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The problem with this is that there will be people who think there answer is correct when it really isn't. Perhaps he/she has been saying something all he/she's life and think think the answer is wrong. I have seen it here on Duolingo many times. And, I would bet it is not just English speakers but with all native language speakers. Just my 2 cents!

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/AndreasWitnstein
AndreasWitnstein
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That would emerge from the review. I get messages all the time from Duolingo saying that a translation I've suggested has been accepted. It shouldn't be any more difficult for Duolingo to send a messaging saying that a suggested translation has been rejected. Or that a suggested correction has been accepted or rejected.

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/KarenGoldberg

This was helpful. I will drop Duo Lingo and buy a book or try another app as I can’t progress with all the mistakes.

7 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/AnnaRosa_C
AnnaRosa_C
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This post was made 4 years ago. I have been using duolingo for 5 years and it is much better now because they have fixed the mistakes users have reported. There is only an occasional glitch.

7 months ago