Discussion forum remake
So a problem seems to be that when a naïve new user makes a comment about adding languages, the older users get annoyed and basically attack the new user.
When I made that mistake, it was because I was feeling enthusiastic. "Great! This is fun and I'm learning. I tried out Spanish, but I would really want to learn __ if it were possible."
Going to the forum, there doesn't seem to be any direction on what the forum rules are, there doesn't seem to be a lot of organization, so overall it seems safe to ask "Can you guys add (_) language?"
Then come the annoyed older users. To be truthful, I felt disappointed. Duolingo has this feeling of friendliness, acceptance and community... until you mention "add this new language".
So I was thinking, as I posted earlier: maybe some organization to the discussion board could help the problem. There only seems to be "Most popular" "New" "Top Discussions" "Troubleshooting" and individual language boards.
Most users don't take the time to read all of what's been posted in the past. It's obvious since you're all so annoyed by it. They won't do it automatically either. With more users joining everyday, and more topics and posts being created, it makes sense to organize the discussion forum with the most important topics created by the forum leaders as a headline, and links to user created topics below.
A new format to the boards, with a headline of "FAQ" visible with a preview (by hovering over the link like Google or just subtitled) "Notes from the Creator" and "Recent Duolingo News" might be advantageous.
Consider some of these formats. http://www.teefury.com/forum/ http://forums.cnet.com/ http://www.designerstalk.com/forums/ http://www.ucreative.com/forum http://forums.firefallthegame.com/community/ http://forums.adobe.com/index.jspa
I really like teefury's since they list a monthly suggestion box. The overall look of the design is clean and easy on the eyes. Though they could use the organization that Firefall has.
Anyway, good luck to your learning.
Hi! I really appreciate this thread and thank you for sharing all of your ideas. You'll be happy to hear that an in depth FAQ is in the works (and will be live soon!). We are actively working on improving the help we offer Duolingo members. The experience you describe when first arriving to the community and asking about adding a language is not one we like to see. We're going to improve the organization of the forum, so that everyone feels informed and welcomed. Here are our community guidelines (they are in French, Spanish, English, Italian and Portuguese depending on what language you're learning from): http://www.duolingo.com/#/guidelines
I second that. The main problem is not in the new users who post without reading first, not in the old users who are annoyed with that, but with the forum structure.
If I were asked, I would make two tabs in Discussions. One tab with discussions arranged by time of last comment and with sticky posts that are always on top of that. And the second tab with discussions I follow, also arranged by time of last comment.
Even without sticky posts, arrangement by last comment would show how many questions about new languages there are. You may not know, but we the moderators have another tab that is called "Active", and it is exactly arranged by last comment. I fail to understand why this tab is not available for everyone. On "Popular" tab that is displayed by default a user just can't see very common but in fact downvoted and thus not "popular" discussions.
By the way, there are guidelines. The link to them is posted in the footer: http://www.duolingo.com/#/guidelines
Well no wonder I didn't see it. Actually, I can't find it on my own without your link.
Down voting is a system I never really liked. People take things personally, and the lack of tone online doesn't help much either. I actually agree with Facebook's policy of trying to keep things positive. The majority of people using the internet are cruel enough already.
The current forum arrangement system has its ups and downs, voting for the most part works but at the same time encourages one overall opinion and hides controversial opinions. I do not know if this would benefit Duolingo in the long run, a larger user base tends to exaggerate greatly what I have just described. It discourages participation in forums in my opinion, but I can trust Duolingo to evaluate this.
A 'Im new here' tab would also be useful - then the irritable 'old' users can butt out and not be bothered about the concerns that one inevitably had when one is new. Simply saying that it is well discussed or even in the 'FAQ' (when it comes) is not helpful - when one is new one misses things.
Incidentally, I hope the FAQ is going to be clearly 'findable' not like the current 'community guidelines' which I have found once but cannot locate any more!
That's my point - not exactly visible!
Thanks for the reminder .... but where do I find terms and privacy? Another hidden set of items! Who looks at the bottom of the page ... I dont, and I guess I am not alone.
Why not make it really visible and put it up top - after all we want EVERYONE to read that, don't we?
The "add language x" problem is common enough that it deserves its own dedicated area.
Another idea for requests for system changes, perhaps including language additions, is a system like uservoice.com (example: http://visualstudio.uservoice.com/forums/121579-visual-studio), which lets customers/end-users propose and then vote with points (a fixed number) on the community generated suggestions. I've used it to provide feedback to Microsoft for their development tools, which I use, and they tend to implement the top voted suggestions into their next product cycle (although they do make exceptions). It's very democratic and works well.
If Duolingo wants to harness their community's voice in shaping their products, a structured voting system like this is far better than informal and often redundant forum postings and comments.