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The thing I dislike about Duolingo

I want this topic to be a constructive one!!! So please, don't use harsh words (no swearing can be harsh as well). The idea is not to blame, but to bring precious insight. I know that these things could go to suggestions, but I think that some dialog would help as well.

Please post just one idea/person - the thing that you dislike the most. It is ok and recommended that at the end of your post you add some idea, of how you would see this thing fixed. If you see an idea posted already, and you want to add some more insight, please reply to that post. But try to reduce the idle talk, offtopic and such. Keep it short and focused.

I shall write the first idea.

December 7, 2014



What annoys me the most is that there are words on my words list that I have not seen in months and almost forgotten, while other words that I know pretty well come up very often. I have seen explanations of the algorithm that explain part of the problem as well as some people mentioning that there are some backend issues. Whatever the cause of this behavior may be: In my opinion it is a severe bug and it needs to be fixed as soon as possible.


The lack of responses to our questions/suggestions by the workers of DL. They never respond with timeframes of when things are going to be done and despite people wanting the XP bar instead of the coach they've pretty much been silent about it, not responding to threads that get at least ten upvotes.


This is the point I dislike most, I even left DL for some time to protest against this. If A/B tests replace communication, you can easily lose groups with needs different from majority, but clearly smaller (still, it can be tens of thousand people). I can't believe DL uses data mining techniques sophisticated enough to find all these minorities.

I see A/B testing everything as a main reason why DL is not developing as fast as a year ago - implementing some minor feature like adding another tab so that people could choose between coach and XP/levels is a matter of days for one developer at worst. But how long is average A/B testing here? A month? Before this A/B testing fashion, people from the team just saw that some people want it and did it, sometimes within hours from the moment someone asked for it (this is not possible for everything, it was a "revert few values in a code feature", even simpler than the tabs I just mentioned).

I understand that watching all the notable discussions is not as easy as it was a year ago, but the difference seems too big. When there are lots of people wanting something (100+ votes are still quite exceptional, watching 10+ discussions is not realistic now), some of the mods should tell the team, and within a day or two someone of the team should appear there and tell us: "We know about your needs, we talk about this internally", and few days later: "wait after the A/B testing, if A wall make it, we will make some improvements on it, including returning feature C overwritten by A". Lots of people would complaint, but I would be completely happy, and I would defend the team against those wanting something unrealistic.


This time I have to defend them as I am a believer of the fact that sometimes the scientific approach (a/b testing) gives better results than ... what people think that would be good or bad for them. (And having to keep up with the people is a full time job, for many people, more or less + it's impossible to satisfy everybody at the same time - even when you add a new feature which replaces nothing at all, all you see are people that complain over some tiny aspect of the new feature; the members of the community will always disagree between themselves referring the features). Also keep in mind that people receiving something that they like, don't make as many posts saying that they like what they got, as people getting something they do not like.

These being told I think that a solution to this would be for the moders (volunteers) to keep an unique list of the problems that arise, and to be a rather constant communication between them and the staff (moderators returning the answers). This is hard to be put in practice, and takes more time than some are willing to wait - but it is the best that I can came with. (I wouldn't like to be a moder as it is, since it is a lot of work)

Giving timeframes is an entirelly new job - it's really hard to... predict the future.


These being told I think that a solution to this would be for the moders (volunteers) to keep an unique list of the problems that arise, and to be a rather constant communication between them and the staff (moderators returning the answers).

Already occurs. :)


This. It wouldn't necessarily have to be the blue rings responding. If they could feed information through you that would help everyone. They don't have to patrol the forums a lot and you (mods) can give better answers. And we get answers. Everyone's happy that way.


I think the idea of flashcards is a good one, but I don't think it's implemented well. Firstly, it only shows you the foreign word and you have to say what the word is in your native language. Having half the cards giving you the foreign word and half giving you the word in your native language would be much better.

Secondly, It relies on you to say whether or not you got the word right. I think you should have to type it in, as it's far easier to let yourself off if you got it almost right (saying the singular when it's actually plural, for example) even if your intention is not to cheat at all. But if you say you got it right, then it counts as you getting it right, even if a lesson or practice would have marked it as wrong.

And, finally, it counts towards maintaining your strength bars. I think that's a bad idea because it's just the word out of context and, as such, you've not really practised it, and because you may have said you got it right even if DuoLingo itself may not agree.


Why would someone be able to lie about whether they got it right really matter? There's absolutely nothing to stop someone from looking everything up in another tab to get a guaranteed 100%, and there's really nothing about the system that allows it to hurt anyone but the person who's deciding whether to count it as right or not.

I think part of the reason they came up with the approach they're using is because it means that you can run the flashcards on something like a smartwatch, where typing is impractical or impossible.


It matters because it has the capacity to hurt the person who is deciding whether it's right or not. It's human nature to discount little mistakes. If the flashcard is "Hunde" and you say "dog" and, when it is turned over you see "dogs" you're likely to say "close enough", especially if you're in a hurry. But the algorithm then has you marked down as having got it right, despite the fact that had you said "dog" in a lesson you'd have been marked as wrong.

It means that it's less effective than it could be, and could actually detract from learning the language correctly.

Bear in mind that I'm not talking about people who are deliberately cheating in order to game the system, but about people whose standards of what is and is not right are a little more lax than DuoLingo's are. They may think it's close enough not to matter, but in actuality they could be learning bad habits which they later have to put in even more effort to break, and it could retard their actual learning because simply saying that you're right when you're not pushes that word to the bottom of your list and has it counted as being right, when it's actually one that you need to practice more, not less.


I avoided to comment to this because this is a tool that I don't use. The thing is that I don't like it, but as well, it seems to me that you wish to change it that much that it would break it or eliminate it altogether (mind me: you would get something useful instead, but something really different). And I disagree that. Because I know that out there there are some people that use it and that it is really helpful for them (in the current form). I also know that it is a new feature (and it will improve over time as an effect of various effective a/b testings).

While you may say that you know Hund instead of Hunde, the fact that you were pretty close and so on, already has an impact on the memorization of the word. Also, multiple people, probably myself, hinder their progress in a language by over practicing what they already know. Just think that it may be better to be a little lax.

As a note, for explaining of what I mean - I'm on Duolingo since before the launch of the website. (I was here in the beta program). While, I did reset my progress in all languages once, and I had like 3/4 of one year (or more) not touching the language learning being busy with other things in real life, I never made it past half of the German tree.

Did I learn a lot? Yes - I actually amaze my few friends that know German, with the fact that my German, which, though really limited, sounds better than my English (which has even heavier accent) and as well, as they learned German in school in so many years, they find it quite good for the time invested. But somehow, now, when I can add that I feel that I can memorize stuff way better than in the beginning (memrise gets credit for that as well), I somehow think that I could have learned more, were I a little more lax. (That doesn't bother me, though, as I really find the whole process fun, and I don't really care that much of the result)

All in all:

a) Flashcards are really not sitting in the way, if you want to learn some other way

b) Rushing trough reviews with small cheats might actually be useful, contrary to your expectations

c) Yes, you are right, were you to type those results would be more effective, in the ways mentioned by you (100% small cheats proof, better memorization and so on) but just think of how much more time it would take to type all that. And doesn't that kind of look exactly as the classical review that is already available. Isn't that kind of like saying "nobody should eat strawberries because I feel that they are not good for my stomach"?

d) The 50%-50% language to language problem is a somehow different problem, but with same answer. I used to think the same as you, but not I think that It might actually take more time to learn the words and that more users might feel more frustration with it. But if they did not already, they could do some tests with different ratios.

Sorry for bringing no solution here - I feel a little bad for commenting this, but I hope that my insight will be useful. I don't want to debate though if I'm right or wrong, but I would like to see more clear solutions to this problem that won't have such a big impact on the already existing features of it.


As I say - I think one solution would simply to be not to have the flash cards count towards your strength bars. So if your strength bars say that you need to practice "Hund" and you have a flashcard that says "Hund" then your strength bar doesn't go up to "strong", but remains on "needs practice". That way you still get the practice in context.


I can't swear to this, but I think that the flash cards count much more weakly to your strength bars than other means of practicing words. This is just observation, based on practicing a bunch of words with it and watching them very hurriedly decay again.

I actually personally find a certain amount of vocabulary practice outside of context to be very valuable, because there are a lot of sentences on Duolingo that I've basically memorized, and seeing the sentence and remembering what it means doesn't necessarily mean that I'd recognize the same words well in any other context. Also, context limits what a word could mean. If "The ____ drinks milk." then I can be pretty sure the blank is not 'table' even if my first instinct for what the word in the black means under other circumstances would be 'table'.

How much 'perfection' should be the goal at immediate steps of learning is an open question, I think. There've been a few times lately where I made small slips on sentences (such as fumbling present perfect vs past perfect) and then found myself wondering whether it's really beneficial in the long run to 'fail' sentences on that basis even when I already have the concept 80% down. (I'm not arguing that Duolingo shouldn't mark it wrong, because it's entirely appropriate for the automated system to mark that wrong. I'm just pondering from an efficiency/effectiveness of learning standpoint if it's really optimal).

The reality is that real world context would take care of a large proportion of that type of mistake. Articles and stories tend to stay in the same tense for extended periods of time, and it's often obvious what something is intended to mean from context, and a lot of the really small slips that you can make (like dog vs dogs) aren't too likely to happen or to be a big deal. If I think I hear the equivalent of "I have two dog, a German Shepherd and a Rottweiler" my mistake will clear itself up quickly enough to be mostly irrelevant. Because of that, I'm not sure that more time drilling dog vs dogs is actually very valuable compared to an equal amount of time drilling something else entirely.

As Vrexu says, you also have to account for the additional time that would be required for typing. Referring back to my earlier comment that I think the flash cards are self-graded partly because they were writing code they wanted to have work on a smart watch or other situation where typing is impractical, you also have to account for the fact that a non-typing option means more opportunities for someone to practice. If I were able to practice on my watch without even having to pull out my phone and mess around with opening an app, I'd have an even easier way to kill the occasional stray couple of minutes while waiting in line with some practice. (This would also work with a non-typing flash card option in the mobile phone app, because I really don't want to screw around with typing out sentences in those times where I'm saying "I have 3 minutes, maybe I'll try to practice something...")

For a point of reference, by default the program Anki (a very popular SRS implementation) will actually STOP showing you a flash card if you miss it too much. Generally, the things you miss you get quizzed on more. With a lot of missing, however, the system puts a pause on the question entirely and flags it for you to assess it (so you can figure out if there's actually an error on the card, if it's phrased badly, or if there's something else you can do to make it more memorable). The reasoning behind that is, in part, that something that you keep missing and keep having to practice every day ends up taking up a hugely disproportionate amount of your time compared to the other flash cards.

Anki decks often become VERY large (people have decks of many thousands of cards in them). At that kind of size, even 1% of cards causing persistent problems means you're talking about dozens of cards coming up multiple times a week and still not being learned. So they're taking up a lot of time and yielding minimal value for the investment.

My (long-wided) point being that fixating on getting every single individual thing perfect along the way may not be the most effective or efficient route to becoming competent with a language.


I would probably go for lack of vocabulary. For example, I like to talk about animals, but in the German course there is only one skill about animals whereas in another course there are two. Also, with the exception of twelve, the German course doesn't teach us how to say numbers greater than ten, which I'd imagine would be very useful.

I understand that different skills are needed to cover the different features of individual languages, but is there a limit to how many skills can be put in a program? Just a little tweak that I think would benefit Duolingo.


It doesn't seem like it would be too hard to just add more to the basic tree. At least, it doesn't require any alteration to the current system to simply teach more words. When users finish the basic tree, they could unlock a new tree with more vocabulary.


That is precisely what I was going for. ;)


Well, the German tree is specific, because there are less words (for animals and food) than in Italian and Swedish (I don't know for the other languages). In Swedish tree there are lessons "animals 2" and "food 2" and even basic lesson (animals) has more words than the same lesson in the German tree.


For what it's worth, by the time you finish a tree you should have the skills that are needed to be able to start taking in native content, and also to start making your own flash cards that focus on the specific vocabulary YOU need. You like to talk about animals (and I'd guess there are probably specific animals that you favor, since that's true for most people), so building a big German deck on Animals (or accessing one that someone else made on a service like Memrise or Anki) makes sense for you. Chances are, though, that if Duolingo took the time to make another animals lesson, they'd be making a bunch of words that are irrelevant to most of their users (and kind of a waste of their time) and quite possibly not even relevant to you.

More vocabulary wouldn't be a bad thing, but I think people tend to overestimate how much value it would actually offer vs the time put in.


I think that a good solution for this would be to add more vocabulary to each lesson, but, to be able to pass the lessons without actually learning all the words. You would be confronted with the other words either when practicing or in other sentences that you do in the future, in other lessons. (of course, presented as new words) I think that this already happens, but there is simply a need of more sentences.

Update: On the other hand, that's why Immersion is there. For the practice at the end of the tree, which seems enough for learning after the basics.


I see your point. Perhaps there could be an advanced course with more complex sentences, perhaps even texts, and greater vocabulary for people who have completed the course.


That would be awesome. But frankly speaking, the DuoLingo staff has never published any figures concerning how many people finished their language trees, because it is obviously only a very small percentage, so that making an advanced tree will too much work for too less people. Maybe they can do that in a few years, but other languages are far more important because the current skill trees bring you to a level from which you can easily expand your knowledge by yourself. I love your idea, but I think they will never or won't implement an advanced tree for a very long time.


Probably so. At least, they're working on new languages.


Duolingo isn't well fit for a truly advanced course. I mean, you can stuff even more vocabulary, but flashcards can do that too. The real challenge to learning language at a higher level is to digest the increasing amount of stock speech patterns and words that go well together. Duo doesn't teach that extremely well.


Do you think so? Hmm. My experience with the French and Swedish courses is that Duo does teach idiomatic phrases and constructions fairly effectively. It could be a course-by-course thing. And I'd still rather learn vocabulary in the context of sentences, instead of with flashcards.


My experience with the English for Russian speakers course and with creating the Russian for English couse is that it is very, very hard to teach a person structures that make no sense in their native language.

Especially when these start to grow wild. I mean deeper patterns that are constantly used to express specific meanings. I guess you can just memorize that "By me, there's a dog" is how you tell "I have a dog" in Russian.

  • then, "No her here" is a really weird way to say "She is away".
  • why would you ever say "A cat by me behaves better of yours"?
  • or "By house all windows boarded"?
  • Is "Tomorrow second lessonly there will be maths" something you would say? Would you take effort to come up with this Russian structure when presented with a sentence "We'll have maths as our second class tomorrow"?

At that point you can still decipher the structure but I doubt you could produce it without material being presented to you slowly, with patterns clearly showing. When I deal with such sentences, I just have hundreds of clichés in my memory — typical patterns when English structure ARussian structure B. I do not translate much, of course, just have much experience. Professional translators, probably, have a lot of such tricks to deal with sentences that require some work.

A similar problem arises with words that should go together. Aim, objective, goal, purpose each have their own shade of meaning and preferred use (for example, "my objective in life" is, probably, a bad choice of words). Also hard to teach without context any context. And there are always going to be complaints that if the dictionary says the word is a synonym, you should let learners use it there (which I won't if that use looks unnatural or makes little sense).

One may even wonder why Duolingo uses this approach at all. Grammar-translation method is one the oldest, extensively critisized much through the 20th century, with only elements left in modern teaching. To be honest, what Duolingo uses is very close to that shabby grammar-translation method, only without grammar and with sentences in a somewhat random order, with a questionable word list and even more questionable set of meanings (some of words are only used in their rare advanced meanings a beginner should master maybe a year later).

From my experience on our discussion board, it takes users ages to figure out how you use I eat/she eats, I walk/a cat walks and so on. I was 7 years old when we started English at school — really, that's basic stuff even a kid can learn, like, with minimal explanation. So, nope, when there is something tricky, Duolingo does not teach it well per se.

I liked the German course, though. It has been customized, and it shows.


I studied German for a while on Duo (had to stop when the development of the Russian course launched). My observation is that Duolingo does some things right.

It is good for training your automatic response.

Not teaching you extensive grammar also has the advantage that for a while you can try figure out the rules by yourself. And if you took the effort yourself, you are not likely to forget. Obviously, that only works for simple rules and also if they are presented gradually.

However, it is not much fun — and I doubt it is very effective — to give you longer sentences that do not provoke immediate response (I am talking mainly about translating back into the language you learn). Then you are left wondering about possible ways of translating the sentence. That's what translators normally do. Only, guess what, translators are people who know both languages well — you know, it is very hard to translate if you cannot express yourself freely in the language.

So I just try to focus on giving sentences that provide you with a smooth experience, teaching from easy patterns to the most mind-screwing ones feasible for a beginner. If something is way too shaky, I only leave it for one-way translation. I use a textbook and methodology, too. There is a certain level of proficiency expected from an A2+ speaker, and it does not include being flawless in everyhting, but includes knowing many good "models" to build sentences.



That's a very thoughtful critique. Now I'm curious about the Russian course. I'm also even more intimidated by Russian.

In the French course, I've seen a lot of grammatically curious things, and I feel like I'm starting to understand them. When I see them, they make sense, but you're right. I wouldn't produce them on my own even after learning them. But is that a flaw of Duolingo or just typical of beginner language learners? I think the term is language transfer.

I believe Duo is useful because it mostly gives context. Almost all of the translations are phrases or sentences. But a bit of research suggests that Duo is indeed similar to the grammar-translation method and that the grammar-translation method indeed falls short. Why has Duo had the success that it has? If it's just rebranding a clunky old technique, why does it have a study well in its favor? A un-replicated study, true, but why isn't DL failing? Is gamification the only difference?

I'd be curious to hear about your methods on the Russian course. I've always admired DL's data-driven approach, but if their core techniques are ineffective, I'll have to find better materials.


I LOVE the idea of an advanced tree, but as MultiLinguAlex says it probably would have far too limited appeal.


I do have another one, actually.

I think it's great that the algorithm knows what words you haven't practised for a while and which ones you're having trouble with and makes you practice on those. The problem with that is that you tend to learn a lot of vocabulary at the same time, so then you end up practising it all at the same time. So you'll have a quick burst of translating "Regenschirm" to and from German and then it won't crop up for a while before you've suddenly there's another practice session that has 10 questions involving the word.

This means that it doesn't test you on the word as well as it could, because it's easier to remember how to translate "the umbrella" into German if the last question asked you how to translate "die Regenschirm" into English than it would be if the question were the only one in the session to mention the word in either language. As it is, I find that some sessions won't feature a word at all, then one will feature sometimes up to 4 or 5 questions in a row all involving the same word in slightly different permutations.

And then, of course, you've practised all the permutations at the same time, so they'll come along at the same time again next time.

I understand the benefits of practising words regularly, but if the point is to keep practising them at intervals to help them embed in your long-term memory, then they need to be spaced out more.


So, let me list the questions I'm asked in my next practice session:

Translate "A cat"

Translate "The dog"

Translate "The mouse"

Type What You Hear "Der Mann trinkt Wein"

Mark All Correct Translations: "Potatoes are good"

Translate "Wir lesen Zeitungen"

Translate "Du hast einen Vogel"

Type What You Hear: "Die Frauen essen die Orangen"

Translate "The wine" (multiple choice)

Translate "The bird" (multiple choice)

Translate "I have a cow"

Translate "The cat" (multiple choice)

Translate "The dog" (multiple choice)

Translate "The mouse" (multiple choice)

Translate "A dog"

Translate "Eine Katze"

Type What You Hear "Wir lesen Zeitungen"

Translate "Der Hund trinkt Wasser"

Translate "Der Junge hat eine Kuh"

Translate "Eine Frau isst Orangen"

Translate "Ein Hund"

You can see that there's definite clustering there (and none of these questions involve recent vocab, I've most recently finished "Household" and "Questions"). 4 questions are asking me to translate "a/the dog", and three "a/the cat". I'm asked to translate "the mouse" twice. 14 of the questions are about animals, 6 are about food/drink, and 2 are about newspapers.

If the idea of the way the practice is structured and the strength bars is, as claimed, to space out your learning to enable the vocabulary to go into your long-term memory, then I'd have thought it'd make more sense to ensure that words didn't appear more than once in a single session, if possible. If I've successfully identified that "the dog" translates to "der Hund" without multiple choice, then asking me what "the dog" translates to while giving me a choice between "der", "die" and "das" 11 questions later isn't really being helpful.

The same goes for "Wir lesen Zeitungen". The fact that that was a phrase written down for question 6 means that when I'm asked to type what I hear for question 17 I'm more likely to get the spelling right because I remember it from question 6 than because I remember it from previous lessons.

I understand that the algorithm is probably quite complicated and has lots of factors to it, but I think it'd be useful to add something so that if a word is in one question then that it won't crop up, if possible, in that session again. Of course this will depend on what type of word and how far along the learner is (as well as how many answers they get wrong and therefore how many questions they have to answer), but it should be doable for most nouns, at the very least. It should definitely be the case that if a phrase has cropped up in one practice session that the exact same phrase isn't then used again. If it is, then it's testing your short-term memory more than your long.


To go even further : I simply dislike the SRA. I don't think it works altogether. I feel I get the same words over and over again, and within a given session I get just a few words repeated many times, others I never get. If I fail a session, I get THE EXACT SAME words in the next session. I really hope the new system will be better.


I think it would be great if in the practice against the time modus the time would not keep running if I check the discussion. Also, I would love to be able to see the correnct answer to the question on wich time run out on me because mostly that's one I do not know.


As you say, an ever better solution, that's kind of obvious, is for the timer to pause between the moment that you gave the answer and the next question. This way you can check what you typed and why it is wrong (when it is wrong), or the recommended translation.

As a bonus: I suggest that the extra time should adapt to: «user_typing_speed» + «thinking_constant», where:

«user_typing_speed» is an approximation of your average typing speed.

«thinking_constant» is a fixed number that you receive so you can have a pause for thinking. This could be different for different kind of exercises (for instance, increased proportionally to the duration of the audio for listening exercises)


The thing that I dislike the most is that, at least lately, there's no easy way to do things just by using the keyboard, and especially when you fail a lesson (I might confuse with practice here, but the idea still stays) and ENTER gets you to the main screen and you have to scroll down trough the screen (usually with the mouse scroll), pick your lesson/topic,and then your lesson number. With the new system, it seems that you do get to the lesson's screen but from there, you need to click. Same goes with practicing - first, there's no easy way to pick practice without a timer, just with the keyboard, and when you fail the lesson, ctrl+r, if in time, seems to be the only way to quickly redo and keep your momentum.

The solution that i see for this is taken from various games: Esc to return to main menu, Enter to redo, direction keys to select alternative things (as, for example, practice without timer). At the end of every practice, enter to redo, esc to return (1st esc - practice screen, where you pick timer/no timer, 2nd esc - main menu). At the end of the lesson, enter for the next lesson number, if you completed the current one, or redo if you did not. 1st esc to return to the lesson menu, 2nd for the main menu. In the main menu, the screen loads pointing at the first unfinished lesson (at least if you did not complete the tree); R - practice, up/down/left/right - navigate to your lesson, enter - do lesson. (?) help button in some corner to tell you these shortcuts.


If you fail a lesson, you can just refresh (shortcut F5) to redo it. If you accidentally press enter, then use the "Back button".


I feel like there should be badges. With the flags, translation tiers and day streak on your profile it feels like it's stuck in between having game-like badges and nothing.


I’m an avid user of this website. In the midst of all the other big changes going on in Duolingo right now, I’d like to raise the question of the efficacy of up and down-voting of discussion topics.

Just yesterday a very discouraged Duo user wrote a Good-bye Duo post and received many down-votes to the post amid the actual encouragement and practical advice of people who felt motivated to write a response. Very shortly after that, the entire post was deleted. If I had received 10 down-votes to the type of post this user wrote, I might not have bothered to continue on to read the encouragement.

Am I misunderstanding the purpose of the up and down-voting of discussion topics? The guidelines for down-voting in sentence discussion and in general discussion are not clear to me. I understand the desire to order the responses actually written within the post and I also understand the desire to rate posts that say silly things like Duo stinks or give me lingots. But what is the purpose of being able to down-vote a subject like the Good-bye Duo post?

I suggest no down-votes of a dicussion topic. A post with no votes will disappear on its own. If a post is inappropriate it can be reported.


I can't comment on the translation stuff, because I'm not there yet, although I understand that it could have utility (both for the learner and for the companies paying to have their stuff translated).

But I'm not, in general, a fan of upvoting and downvoting posts on a message board. I think it can lead to a situation of the tyranny of the majority, where unpopular opinions are quashed. I can understand the desire to upvote things like threads which contain useful information (say, a posting of grammar resources, or something) in order to preserve them and bring them to people's attention, but it seems to me that a similar effect could be achieved by people simply replying to the thread to keep it near the top, there being a "hot topics" feature which alerts people to what has been commented on a lot since their last visit (I don't know how the current "popular topics" feature works, but presume that it takes up/down votes into account), and maybe having a separate subforum where threads that are seen as particularly useful can be preserved, perhaps by a system of nominations. With up/down voting as it's implemented here, I think it's easy to get into a situation where "the board" has one gestalt opinion and anybody posting anything that differs from that opinion is "punished". I think such systems become elitist and conformist, neither of which are good things for a healthy society, even a virtual one like a message board.

Also, on a practical note, it can make the chronology of threads difficult to follow.

I do, on the other hand, think that the up/down vote system is a good thing for the discussion threads that are linked to from the lesson questions. That seems to ensure that the most pertinent questions and the most helpful answers are the first thing that anybody clicking on the thread sees. And, as anybody doing that is most likely doing so in order to get help, this is a good idea.


Yes, I agree with you about the lesson question sentence discussions. Very often the upvoting puts the most important grammatical information at the top. I am talking about general discussion topics like the Good-bye Duo one I cited. But couldn't the same result be achieved with upvoting on its own and not downvoting?


Yes, you're right, upvotes only would almost certainly also ensure that the most pertinent and helpful posts remained at the top of the lesson discussions.


While I would actually down vote such post myself (sorry for that, but at least I'm being honest here) I do think that the up/down vote system is flawed by the way that it affects people. Same goes to translations voting.

Is the voting efficient in selected the interesting reads from those that some don't want to see? I think yes.

Is the voting system hurting a large number of its users? Sadly, the answer to this is yes as well.

While no down voting is an approach successfully used by others, I think that it would somehow be unjust to the individual that disagrees with some point of view.

What I would suggest: a) For the forum section, what I suggest is to hide the numbers and use a color based approach. All posts start blue (or any other color), for instance, and rise up to... yellow (or any other color, trough different nuances). Subtle moves wouldn't be noticed and there would be no worse color than blue.

b) For the translation section, I would suggest either the same system, with an ability to quickly vote all the past translations and the translation getting less weight in affecting the translation tier level, or a system ... something like:

Pick the translation that you like: a) translation 1 b) translation 2 ... x) other (optional, provide that other translation)

This way tiers would continue to keep their importance.

Update: I forgot to mention: I think that minimizing posts that get a lot of down votes or deleting them is just bad. I understand them being pushed down, but I disagree with the deletion.

edit: I was kind of too aggressive with the translation tier being affected by the down voting (I adjusted that a little). As well, at the same thing, I clarified something badly written.


Update: I forgot to mention: I think that minimizing posts that get a lot of down votes or deleting them is just bad. I understand them being pushed down, but I disagree with the deletion.

Such as "Good-bye Duo" (news to me, I didn't know it was deleted)?

It's case-by-case to be honest. The discussion stream gets crammed quickly, so our job as moderators is to keep the stream running as smoothly as possible. In certain cases, I will delete posts that have many downvotes (but not necessarily spam), because I don't like to see them drag out. I do not know who deleted the one last night, but I would have kept it for the reason you stated. I'll also keep ones that have users engaged in constructive discussion. So, it depends on the moderator around at the time, as well as the content and tone of the post. But in the end, deletion is necessary at times. Hope that helps.


The post is still there, just the text was deleted, likely by the original poster as every time I've recently tried to "Delete" instead of "Moderate/Delete Discussion", the discussion had deleted. It used to delete the text, without deleting the discussion, but it hasn't worked for me recently (after playing around on my own posts for a bit).


Error 404...this page no longer exists.


Huh. It comes up for me, and doesn't show the typical signs of being deleted. Not sure what's going on there.


When the user deletes the post, it still shows for moderators, I believe.


Thank you for considering my point of view and for introducing this subject to the general discussion forum to start with. You framed it very well. My comment did not apply to translations.

There is no shame in having downvoted. The voting system on Duo invites response, as does YouTube and other sites. But Duo is not YouTube and we don't need our posts to go viral. Many people here are trying to learn a language and Luis von Ahn has a very noble vision of how we can do so.

Wouldn't simple upvotes achieve the same results you seek? A post in the genetral discussion forum could be either up-voted or ignored. My posts are often ignored. If one strongly wants to disagree, she could express herself in a response. In the rare instances when the post is racist or similarly inappropriate, couldn't it be simply reported?


Let's be objective for a second. Downvotes mean "I don't agree with your post/I don't like this/it's spam". Upvotes mean "I agree/I like this/it's helpful". There's nothing wrong with having down votes in my eyes.

We often get wrapped up in them because it stings sometimes, but in the end, it's an anonymous vote by a person who for all we know could be on the other side of the world. The down votes are in place to gauge the quality of responses and if they are worth wasting time reading (in this go-go-go world of ours), and they also signal moderators if they are unnecessary comments.


It's the first and second of your definitions of what a downvote means that I think is problematic. If a lot of people don't agree with or dislike something, does that mean that that's worthless? Does it mean that it's an opinion that shouldn't be listened to? That should be deleted, even? Not because it's hateful or bigoted or harmful in any way, but simply because it's expressing an opinion that's not popular? I can't see how a system which quashes dissent is a good one, although I'm open to a cogent argument.

I would also point out the difference between quality and populism. Something getting a lot of downvotes doesn't imply that it's of low quality, and something getting a lot of upvotes doesn't imply that it's of high quality. It's not a gauge of quality, it's a gauge of popularity. Things which are popular may be of high quality, and things which are unpopular may be of low quality, but that is not necessarily so.

I also sense a tension between the concept of this board and what it can/should be, based on the "go-go-go" comment. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but my impression is that this board is primarily supposed to be a place where people can help each other with the learning of whichever language(s) they are learning. A place for sharing resources and asking questions. That kind of thing is useful, but such things often take time and need consideration. Something that's "go-go-go" is more a twitter/Facebook kind of ephemeral "post then forget" kind of thing. The idea of an academic resource which is geared towards disposability and brevity seems like an oxymoron to me.

As for your last point, surely a "report" button would be a better way to notify moderators of content which requires deletion?


It seems that your post is squashed to the side enough that I can no longer see the reply button, meaning I'll have to reply to mine. I'm unsure of how to bold things. This doesn't look like a BBCode kind of site, so I'll try html....(that's another point, a quote button would be awesome). [Edit]Nope, not html. Let's try BB, then[/edit][edit 2]Not that, either. I give up[/edit]

[b]This is why I said let's be objective. A downvote does not mean someone believes a post is "worthless" (subjective). It could simply mean they don't agree.[/b]

It doesn't mean that the person placing the downvote necessarily thinks the post is worthless, but the function of many downvotes is to move the post downwards to make it less visible, to potentially cause the software to hide it entirely so that people need to click on "expand" (or however it's labelled on this site" to read it, and to flag it up for deletion. You even said yourself that the voting system is there to tell people which posts are worth their time to read. Functionally, downvoting something is saying that it has less value than other posts, and too many downvotes says that it has no value.

bI have seen plenty of dissenting posts to the main argument be UPVOTED, going against the opinion of the original poster/b

My point wasn't that people disagreeing with the OP couldn't get downvoted, but that downvoting creates a system whereby people disagreeing with the majority opinion of the board will get downvoted. If I were to post a thread that was critical of something that many people on the board liked, then chances are that it'd be downvoted heavily, regardless of whether or not I had sound, intelligent, well-researched points. Even if it were a subject on which I was objectively right but that people disagreed with, it'd still be downvoted and disappear. Not because I was wrong, not because I'd made a bad argument, and not because I'd misbehaved, but because I'd said something that a majority disagreed with.

bDuolingo is a bit different from other sites. It's nearly guaranteed that things will be downvoted because of low quality[...]/b

Perhaps this is true. I'm happy to take your word for this. But, even if true, this does not guarantee that it will remain ever thus.

What I'm saying is not that worthwhile posts are currently being disregarded unfairly, what I'm saying is that the system which is currently in place is set up to allow that to happen. And these things can creep up on you, especially when a place has a few years on the clock and there's a group of people who have been there since the beginning or since near the beginning. People are tribal animals, and I've seen it happen any number of times in any number of online communities.

It's a bad idea to rate things via popularity rather than merit, even if these two things start off synonymously.

bSupposed to be versus what it is are two different things. Most don't realize that language learning is not a "game", or that it's not "easy", per se. It takes work and attention. But, I see all the time, those who look for the quick fix, the shortest way to the finish line. /b

So why set the message board up to cater to the people who are treating it as a game, rather than those who are serious about learning?

b The search bar doesn't work like it should, and once a post is a week old, kiss it g-o-o-d-b-y-e unless a kind soul remembers it, probably months later (true story). /b

This seems to me to be an agreement that the message board is borked, rather than an argument as to why it is not.

bDuolingo is built on a go-go-go foundation, it's the reason why there are 15 million active users and 14 million at least (my estimate) are using the quick, ten minutes a day, apps./b

That the lessons are geared towards quick bursts of activity isn't an argument that the message board shouldn't and couldn't be something with substance to it. That it couldn't be a solid resource on its own. Or, indeed, that there couldn't be two - one for quick thoughts and conversations, and one a more serious resource for more in-depth discussions.


Two asterisks for bold.

Okay, I'll try that, thanks. [edit]It works. Danke[/edit]

No one is ever convinced to see differently over an Internet discussion, agree?

Actually, I'm a member of several message boards where I've seen people's minds changed on all sorts of issues through persuasive argument and presentation of evidence. I've had my mind changed and changed people's minds, even on issues which are important.

I guess I just really don't agree with not allowing people to express an opinion through downvoting.

Downvoting isn't expressing an opinion, though, beyond in the most basic sense. Human interaction is far too complex and layered to be able to have a simple "like/dislike" button be any kind of meaningful commentary.

And people can express an opinion through posting. Or not posting. If you don't post in a thread, it disappears. If someone says something you disagree with, you can say why, and perhaps you'll get a reply and a fruitful discussion can ensue.

Echo chambers where only the dominant ideas are allowed to be expressed are not healthy places, and certainly not welcoming to outsiders. Places where all opinions are welcome and people discuss different viewpoints civilly thrive.

Not everyone does that, though.

The system itself marks things by popularity, not merit. The metric by which the site determines whether a post is worth someone's time or not (again, your words) is how popular it is.

Luis himself said he doesn't like the social aspect.

So we can agree that there are improvements to be made, and that maybe making the message board something more substantial could be one of them? Furthermore, can we agree that maybe removing the up/down vote system might be an improvement?


Just because other people have already voted up or down for a post doesn't always mean that the next person will come along and act accordingly. People go against the flow all the time, ignoring the votes and saying or doing what they want.

Of course people can vote however they wish. I'm not implying differently. What I am saying is that a system of up/down votes which quashes posts which are downvoted (as this system does) leads to a situation where a majority can drown out dissenting voices.

Say there was a particular aspect of this site that was very popular and there's a thread on how good it is. Poster X comes along and says that she's noticed a flaw in this particular mechanic. This is Poster X's first post, so she doesn't have a reputation amongst the community so people won't give her the benefit of the doubt that having a reputation for being an intelligent and reasonable poster naturally earns one. So people see she's being critical and downvote her post, without necessarily reading it first, or reading it with an open mind. It is, after all, often human nature to read a criticism of something that you like as being a criticism of you personally, and people often take unreasonable umbrage at these things (and, if you don't believe me, tell a "Star Wars" die-hard that the franchise is terrible, for example, and see what reaction you get).

So Poster X's post moves down the thread and eventually goes under the "2 more posts, click to expand" mechanic and is thereby hidden from view.

Along comes Poster Y who's a very clever man when it comes to working out new mechanisms by which something works. Now, if he were to see Poster X's post, he'd realise that she had a point and, in a flash of genius, he'd instantly know how to fix the flaw that she's seen with a very simple modification. If people were to read his idea they'd recognise it for the genius that it is and champion it. The mods would see this groundswell of support and report back to the site developers. They'd see it for the genius it is and note how simple a solution it is and, during the next bout of site maintenance they'd add the 2 lines of code that's required and, hey presto, there's now a feature that everybody thinks is better than it was before. Everybody thought it was great before, but now they think it's amazing.

But Poster Y never sees Poster X's post, because it was downvoted and he didn't get that far down the thread, and he wouldn't have clicked on the "expand" button to read it if he had got that far down. So the site remains worse than it potentially could be, not because Poster X was wrong, and not because she expressed herself badly, but because what she said was unpopular.

An extreme example, for sure (and one that I realised as I was writing it sounds like it's potentially autobiographical, although I can assure you it's not), but I hope it helps you understand where I'm coming from and why I think a system that judges posts' worth on popularity rather than merit is a bad one. Burying unpopular opinions is rarely a good idea.


Well, you've already received a few upvotes, so obviously I'm in a minority here!

I don't know that I'm not being objective. I certainly understand the arbitrary nature of all this voting and discussion. When I'm finished with language study and skim general discussion (because it can prove useful with links and such), I judge if I want to use my skimming time by the titles/subjects. I am a more-than-once daily user, so I check new discussions. What you say makes sense for people who check discussion less frequently.

BTW, I have consistently found you a very thoughtful moderator. Thanks.


I could be reading too much into your initial tone, so if I am, my apologies. The objectiveness was to clearly lay out the definitions, additionally. I didn't see you give a reason for removing the downvotes, just that you said simply upvotes would be fine (which, they cancel out in that case, meaning it doesn't make much sense to say anything about them in the first place), so that's where I'm coming from.

Ah, but how many of us actually take the time to read things thoroughly? I have answered countless questions, sometimes even right after the other (!), because people don't take the time to read, let alone the repeated "X course is out!" The downvotes are an easy way to judge content, as not everyone takes the (better) action that you do. We are in the era of the short attention span, so anything to make Duolingo more efficient will be kept on. In the end, it's about efficiency.

As a moderator, I naturally look to the vote counter FIRST. The title will not always give everything away for me (which leads to further investigation when there are downvotes). I can think of very recent situations where the title was betrayed by the downvote counter. Sometimes I log on and I have much to catch up on in a short amount of time, so that helps me as well.

Thanks for your comments, and you are welcome. :)


Guys, stop the flaming!!!

And while I'm hear, I'll just write one thing and after that I'll refuse to read this anymore:

As many people, or even more, might get as offended, or even more, by the posts that get down voted, as posters that get offended by the fact that their posts got down voted. Good (which is a highly subjective quantifier) insights or not.


Guys, stop the flaming!!!

There has been no flaming, just civil disagreement. Given that one of the people participating in the discussion is a moderator who has simply participated and hasn't done any moderating, I think it's fairly safe to say that the discussion doesn't cross any lines.

As many people, or even more, might get as offended, or even more, by the posts that get down voted, as posters that get offended by the fact that their posts got down voted.

This is why a report button is a better idea than a downvote button. Posts which people feel are problematic can be brought directly to the attention of the moderators and if the post breaches any rules it can be dealt with.


The fact that the UI language is not separated from the source language, and hence you can always only see one source language in your menu, is kind of stopping for people like me who try to learn a language by registering for its inverse course (Arabic in my case). If UI language was separated, then one can start learning (e.g.) Arabic before the direct ArabicFromEnglish course is added.


As a person that did few "Learn English in Chinese/Japanese/Russian" lessons, I totally understand you (especially in forums, it gets confusing). Sadly, it was not implied that we would play that much with the languages when the website was designed.

Yes, a solution to your problem would be to be able to select your layout language from the main menu.

As well, it would be great if you'd rephrase your sentence to be somehow less demanding. (I don't know, I find it kind of harsh.) Something along the lines: I don't like that the UI language is not separated from the source language, would be great.


What frustrates me: the relative lack of customisation of the experience.

I am aware that Duolingo does A/B testing on features - so theoretically we have the feature combination that is most effective at making the majority of people use the site regularly and become productive translators. However, the net result is a kind of one-size-fits-all approach that means we don't get to have any choice as to the features we lose or keep, which can be irritating (and I'm not convinced that one size really does fit all!).

To take recent changes as an example - I'd like to see an option to turn off the coach completely, or better yet, one to change the coach to not affect my streak (I'd set it much higher if I could do this!). Similarly I'd like to turn on my progress bar again because it's personally something I found very motivating.

The default settings for new users should indeed be the A/B tested "proven" ones, but I feel it's frustrating that we don't have any way to tweak the experience later on to the things we've found work for us.


That idioms and idiomatic word usages are included in the same lesson where the word(s) involved are first introduced.

I'm not saying that Duolingo shouldn't teach idiomatic usages. But I think when a word is first introduced, it should only be used in sentences where it has its literal meaning, giving us a chance to memorize it and get comfortable with it before the idiomatic usages are introduced. This is the biggest stumbling block for me, since I have to remember these idiomatic usages while I'm still trying to just memorize the normal meaning of the word.


Sadly, again, I'll make a post where, contrary to what I'd want, I'll bring no solution.

To further elaborate. This is one of those things that made me stay away from Memrise for a while (so I feel your pain). While on duolingo the translations were more word by word (at least in the beginning), there they would go more on the idiomatic path.

These being told, though, let's think for a second. (I'll speak from «our» perspective since I feel that if I'll use "they" my sentences would lose their impact) Where could we put those idiomatic meanings? Should we make a lesson just with random idiomatic sentences? I don't think that would work (and, as well, I think that it would bring a lot of rage). Isn't the best place with the words, where this way we also learn when not to understand those words in a wrong way?

And more importantly - isn't really the fact that languages have weird complicated idiomatic meanings that you actually dislike and not where duolingo puts them?


Maybe each (or some) skill could have an advanced level that adds things like idiomatic usages, extra vocab, irregular stuff, etc. When a gold skill is practiced enough, the advanced level would unlock and there'd be new lessons to do in it.

One improvement that would make things much less painful without having to change the tree would be for the hints system to be improved. The hints often aren't any help at all.

And no, this isn't really that I just don't like idioms. Languages would be pretty boring without them. My complaint is definitely about when Duolingo introduces them. We don't have to learn when not to understand those words in a wrong way at the same time we learn the basic meaning of them. Learn one, then the other. Splitting it up into smaller pieces makes it easier.


When it says practice weak skills and I do sometimes it doesn't do anything to my skill level


The German woman does not speak her words clearly at times. I know because I've lived in Berlin and had many German friends. Whereas I am good at pronunciation, I am week in grammar and vocabulary. It's important that words be spoken DEUTLICH. It is very frustrating to lose a heart because the German word was not spoken clearly.


All voices are not that clear all of the time. But sadly this is a technological limit, more or less. Of course, a solution that was suggested on the forum in the past, is to mix this voice with those of the native speakers that finish/make the tree (with their permission) or volunteers. (Of course, this is hard to implement, needs volume adjustments and such)


Yes that would be fantastic! Something like on rhinospike, where native speakers can contribute to uploading audio for sentences. That would be fabulous.


Inaccurate, unnatural robot voices. I liked iKnow.jp's course in that all the sentences are recorded by voice actors and there's more than one voice to hear. I really feel like Duo could do some crowd sourcing and get some good audio from native speakers. I also appreciate being able to hear both male and female voices in my target language.


Yup, in France it will be hard to understand normal voices for me... that's why Irish is such an awesome course in terms of the TTS.


I wish that Duolingo could come up with ways to cater more to the speaking/listening side of learning a language. I feel like I can read and write Spanish but not speak it well or understand well what is being said to me. I realize that they have done microphone questions, pronunciations of the words and sentences, and "write what you hear" exercises, and I have to say the "write what you hear" ones are pretty great but the microphone simply doesn't work well (at least, not for me) and the pronunciations haven't been too helpful.

I know it's hard to come up with any other ways to do this besides what they've done. But I think one good idea is to have a video camera sort of thing set up where users can talk to each in the language. That would be great!

Well, if anyone figures out better ways to do this, it would be great if Duolingo could add it. I know it's hard, but there's got to be a way.


Well, the solutions are already there. Both the listening exercises and the voice recognition are sufficient (and not risky, as webcam to webcam). The problem is that they don't work well enough, mainly because of the technological limitations (which translates in «we have to wait more»). Once they can better, they could play with them more (as in asking for easy answers to easy questions).

But yes, additional solutions to this problem would be welcome.


I want to be able to edit stream messages. To me that is SUPER annoying. :P


The lack of grammar explanations, often times a subject is thrown at us without any explanation...

But overall Duolingo is great.


Given the mountains of books and the many online reference tools dedicated to grammar, it strikes me as a little strange that people seek it from a game that teaches us vocabulary and set phrases.

My favorite grammar books are the Routledge Modern Grammars. There's one for German. I haven't read it, but if it's even half as good as Modern Brazilian Portuguese Grammar, it's worth checking out.

McGraw-Hill publishes a series of short books titled [insert target language] Verbs & Essentials of Grammar that prepared me well for the exhaustiveness of the Routledge book.


Great idea for a topic, but please change the word "hate" to "dislike". "Hate" is much too hard and if I were working at DuoLingo, I wouldn't read such a topic.

Since Penderuxxekrieg has already posted the most annoying fact, I pretty much dislike that the Incubator (which is the flagship of DuoLingo) cannot be easily found (solution: place it next to "Words", "Activities" a.s.o.!) and that it requires too much clicks to change between various languages trees.


Yeah, the biggest problem for me is switching between "X for English speakers" and "English for X speakers" courses.

I can switch between French and Portuguese easily, but if I want to work on the English for Polish speakers or the English for Portuguese speakers course, I have to go through my settings and change my language.

It would be lovely if Portuguese - English and English - Portuguese would both show up in the drop-down menu under our language flag.


It would be much more convenient; Luis has said that it is more complicated behind the scenes than we believe, however, and since their main focus is on other things, I wouldn't expect it anytime in the immediate future. However, there are some user scripts created by members of Duolingo:


Thanks a lot! I remember seeing these posts, but I've never tried it. I might give it a shot after exams.


It's too bad the message boards aren't organized in a different way that would make it easier to search previous responses. After you see the same question asked for the umpteenth time you kinda wish they had designed it differently. Makes me think users have different needs that exceed the original design idea and weren't anticipated. It's fascinating to see how they have creatively responded to those limitations and made more out of the design than it could have been.

Also, it seems many users want to connect with other users here for language practice, but can't really do so which seems like a missed opportunity in the design as well. One nice thing about this place is you see lots of other people studying multiple languages and its fun to be around people who want to talk (to any degree) about languages since in my daily life that topic has been talked to death! ;) But the interactions aren't always what you'd want them to be. I notice quite a lot of misunderstanding on here - some of it is linguistic, some of it cultural, some of it just the wide age range.


As an addition to what you said, it would be really useful to be able to sort the answers in one topic by the time that they were posted. For instance, I find it really difficult right now to follow all the answers because they move all the time.

While duolingo offers some ways for users to enter in contact with each others, including the display of your facebook/twitter profile, indeed, some might find it weird to receive some friend invite on facebook, for instance. (In other words, I totally agree with you)

The solution for the pen-pal problem that I see is to offer some chat/mail function that has like 3 states.

1) opt in/opt out language chat - when you opt out nobody can send you anything/you receive nothing.

2) online/offline (also called privacy) - when you are online, people can see that you are around and talk with you.

It would be great to be able to switch these two option, individually. (eg: opt in for Jack and Rosie, but not for Mark, and online just for Rosie) (This would also prevent spam)

This way, as well, you would be able to exchange contact data privately.

Bonus: Picking a team and translating together in Immersion would make Immersion so much fun!!!


That would be so great! :) And I didn't realize about the Facebook/Twitter thing. I don't do FB, but I occasionally use Twitter. Huh. :)


Also, it seems many users want to connect with other users here for language practice, but can't really do so which seems like a missed opportunity in the design as well.

Luis himself has said that the social aspect (posting on streams, following/followers, leaderboard) feels tacked on in his eyes, and he's not really pleased with the current situation. However, we don't know what that means. Changes will surely be in the future for Duolingo, but because there are already plenty of other communication resources, it remains to be seen how much Duolingo will expand on that side of the site.

But the interactions aren't always what you'd want them to be. I notice quite a lot of misunderstanding on here - some of it is linguistic, some of it cultural, some of it just the wide age range.

And some of it because no one person is the exact same as the next, so we bring our own issues into each conversation. ;)


Thanks for the info amiga! I took the time one day to go look up/read a couple of his old AMA's, but missed his latest one. I don't really have any earth shattering complaints about the site, I like free, and that's enough for me. We'd all probably do things a little differently here and there if it was our baby. I just wish I'd thought of it! ;) (snapping fingers downwards) But I don't mind being part of the experiment. :) p.s. I was too chicken, again, to do the Mod. v. Mod. But I always kinda do it on a "shadow" basis. Thanks for all you do to make this place more then the sum of its parts!


Neither do I. I dumped my monolingual tag, heck yeah this site is good enough for me. Free, too? Hot jam. :P

Aw, you need to get in next time, would love to have you! Thank you for the appreciation, and you're welcome. :)


You have stated the way I feel about the message boards precisely! If a really interesting topic was discussed a couple of weeks ago and you have not been attentive to the messages for awhile you will never see it unless, maybe, there are responses to it. I also agree it would be very advantageous if you could communicate with someone in your target language.


Oh really? :) Glad to know I am not alone! ;)


Very much agree with the message board comment. I would particularly love to see a 'feature requests' sub-section to a) give people an obvious place to voice those suggestions, b) keep them off the main boards and c) make it so suggestions don't get lost and then re-suggested however many times.


That would be great! :)


I also dislike that (atleast in Chrome) I can't open the topics in the tabs. That plus making the topics a giant list instead of pages makes it worthless to try and view anything other than the last 10 or so topics.


Yep. I just come by between lessons to see what's up, but it feels chaotic. I think I just like to know others are also studying languages and we can sometimes help each other. :) There's a lot of good info. here that just quickly disappears.


I've recently connected with some very helpful people through this site. I just went to their Facebook profiles, added them and started chatting.


Oh, that's nice! :) Thanks for the tip!


As this is a separate point, I'll put it in a separate post.

I think you should be able to tweak your learning experience somewhat. I find translating from English to German to be much harder than translating from German to English, but most of the lessons/practice consist of translating from German to English. I'd like to be able to have settings where I could increase the instances of writing German so I have more practice in both spelling and remembering vocabulary. It's much easier to see the word "Pferd" and remember that it means "horse" than it is to need to say "horse" and 1) remember that the word is "Pferd" and 2) remember that it's not spelt "Pfard" or "Pfärd" or something, so it would be useful to be able to practice this more.


Similarly, I'd really like to see an option to do specific practices - Listening only, "To" the foreign language only, "From" the foreign language only. Perhaps they could be lingot-unlockable like the timed practices.


I think the site emphasizes translating TO your own native language by default partly because part of the goal is to be able to get you to do immersion eventually, and that consists entirely of translating to your own native language.

I think the long term goal is to make the site automatically adapt to what a given individual does well or struggles with.


Well, indeed. While, as you wrote it, it seems that their plan is to throw you in immersion, the reality is that immersion is supposed to be really useful. You learn first to translate from the target language into yours because this is the fastest thing that you can learn. The other way, you get into issues like word order and such, and the process is much much slower and based on experience and ... grammar.

The thing is that, after finishing the tree you are pretty strong in the basics, and immersion really helps. Yes, in the current stage I personally don't find it that fun. But even I translated a full small article from English to my language and I got some precious insight. Mind that while I have quite a few mistakes in my English, translating the other way around is supposed to be easier and... it was pretty challenging. But did I learn something from it? I think that I did.

Just to further clarify, I 100% agree that they seem to make a website that automatically tailors to the user's experience (which is great).


The complete lack of grammar explanation - or really any explanation - at all. If I'm learning something new on the app, I can't quit to look something up without losing my progress. Very annoying.


Explanation for that: Luis does not like teaching grammar, so the courses do not contain them. But, contributors are taking matters into their own hands and expanding Tips & Notes in the new user courses, and French as well, so we'll see if the whole Fab Five (original courses made by the creators of Duolingo) are upgraded.


My biggest bugbear is that, as an iPhone user of the lessons, I can't report a mistake or read a discussion attached to a particular sentence. I get round this to a certain extent by taking a screen shot of my 'problem' sentence and then once a week or so, going to the website and searching for these sentences using the search box within the discussion tab. Often the discussion I find there bears out my original suspicion that the original sentence has something not right about it or there are perfectly acceptable alternatives that should also be allowed. When I have used the website for lessons and reported 'errors' or alternative translations, I have on occasion received emails later that say my suggestion has been accepted so I know that someone is listening and that I also have something useful to contribute. I feel that if this facility were available to 'mobile' users, as it is for 'website' users, then 'issues' with particular sentences would be cleared up more quickly as more people would be able to report on them. Perhaps there are very few mobile users compared to website users; does anyone know what the split is?


Please forgive me if I understood something wrong.

I don't know the iPhone app, but the Android app has reporting and lesson comments. Because of this, the only reason that I can think for the iPhone app not to have it is their app updates politics, that again, I heard of, but I don't know, that delay the app being updated.

So, what I'm saying is that I think that these features are on the way and you just need to wait a little more.

Of course, this is something that I'd dislike, so I think that you have a strong point here.


I dislike that in Duolingo, they do no teach you to say "Hello", "Goodbye", "Thanks" and "I do not speak Portuguese until you learn phrases! I think Duolingo should prioritize (What word is more important: woman or hello?) and make lessons according to that. Thanks! :)


Not as important as they seem. Recently I checked one project on everyday Russian (Один речевой день, 'One day of speech') that took effort to record real everyday conversation as is (through use of tiny recorders carried by the enrolled volunteers on their neck for the entire day).

Turns out, greetings are not rare, but words like "I", "in", "here", "that" and certain 4 and 3-letter words take clear precedence. In a more balanced corpus words and expressions like "do", "got it", "work", "day", "question", "some", "easy", "I think", "live", "mean", "Right!" are more popular than greetings, too.

For Russian, of course. Still, I believe it works for English, too. After all, you probably use "Hello" or "Thanks" no more than 4 or 10 times a day. That is, unless communicating with tens and hundreds of people is part of your job.

However, there is a more obvious reason for that. Duolingo is based on giving you sentences in your language of choice. And there's hardly any doubt that Hello's and Goodbye's make really boring sentences. That's a downside of how Duolingo teaches you language, but it affects what expressions it can teach all the same.


Actually, while I do think that since the first lessons are not that difficult, and you get through the first four lessons or so quite fast, so the order of those subjects that are put close enough is not that important (besides, others might have other priorities), I was confronted with your problem. One «most used» past tense, though a difficult thing to learn, it is heavily used in common speech. I actually never got to that point on the lesson tree (except on the English tree, where the placement test got me near the top), and I was somehow forced to learn some basic verbs past tenses in German from other places (mostly for verbs as "to be" and "to have").

The solution that I see for this would be, not to change the order of the lessons, but to allow the users to jump ahead (on their own risk). So (generally speaking), they should do something like this: Okay, you think that you are so cool? Just start with the last lesson (this is over exaggerated), if you that's what you want to. But don't cry here if all the words are yellow (new words) and you can't find your way around. We already show you our recommended path.


Otherwise I love Duolingo, but it seems like it strengthens skills in Timed Practice only when I don't actually beat the clock, and when I do and get almost all of them correct it strengthens none of them, which I can't tell if it's a glitch or if it's purposeful.


This sounds really weird. Maybe you should gather some screen captures and head to the technical area of the forum.


Though I think I read they were planning on implementing this on the short term, my main annoyance with the app is that it has no "Tips & Notes" screen which makes me unable to do Irish lessons properly.

The other main thing is that I always lose my streak because I'm busy but that's not Duolingo's fault. Awesome job, guys!


This isn't so much a part of Duo's core focus, but they might consider adding privacy settings? I know some young people who use Duo and it's an obstacle for over-protective parents, despite the civility of Duolinguists.


Vrexu set up this topic to be constructive and I have a sense that the people who have responded to it value Duolingo tremendously and intend to be constructive in their comments. Having a title like "the thing I dislike about Duolingo" might suggest that those who post on that topic are not grateful and do not appreciate the very generous amounts of work that many people contribute to this site for free.

Perhaps we could have a separate category for discussion threads that function as a suggestion box or wish list. Users frequently make suggestions about Duolingo under different topic headings. I've enjoyed reading so many suggestions collated in one thread.


Hi! You gimme lingutz pluzzz!!


i get it correct and it sais i get it wrong


I really don't like how you fail the lesson if you get more than 3 wrong. Seriously, we're learning! Expecting us to get them all right on the first try is a little unrealistic. Other than that, DL is really good


There is an A/B test that erases the hearts system. When this test is over, it is expected that everybody will get this feature so that you won't be annoyed again in the future.


Does A/B test mean only certain people get it? I guess I'm not one of them


I dislike the fact that there aren't enough languages to learn!

[deactivated user]

    Duolingo might not have a lot of courses for English speakers but there are 50 courses that are/will be available to everyone all across the planet. Many of them are run by contributors and just over a year ago there was no such thing as the Incubator. These courses take a lot of time because they care about the quality of them. They can't just translate some words and pump out another course.

    Appreciate what you have!


    That'll change in the future.


    They got rid of the hearts. Does anybody know why, or if there's a way of getting them back? I liked being able to go through the lessons without worrying about whether or not I understood them well enough to go on. I often find myself now wondering, "How many did I get wrong? 2? 5? I can't remember? Should I repeat the lesson?" It's really stressful. They're still there on mobile versions for some reason, but not on the computer, so I don't use the computer version of Duolingo anymore.


    There's another post complaining about the hearts around here ^^.

    For now there's some A/B testing going on, but I think that soon they'll get rid of them for good.

    Now, should you repeat your lesson if you get many wrong answers?

    Probably not, as with the new system the lessons become longer if you give bad answers.

    You can find more details here: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/5780970


    Is there any specific reason that the timed practice is not available on the mobile app?


    Though you phrased your suggestion such way that it demands an answer, I'll answer you to that question.

    Most of us are not that fast at typing on a phone!!! While on a pc the average user has at least 30 words/minute (I think that most are at 40-50 words/minute), on the phone that speed varies a lot. And because on the phone is so easy to make a typo, you also have to proofread. And if you actually care about accents - those slow down your typing even more. Not only that you might have to change your keyboard, but for each accent/special letter, you lose like 2 seconds. (I'm among the few that write using all my language's letters and I'm pretty familiar with the long wait). If you use a dictionary (though I don't recommend that), this might speed things a lot, and ... suddenly one word is missing. And, somehow, the dictionary keeps correcting you...

    I hope that these reasons are enough, but I'm pretty sure that I could find more.


    Repetition, repetition, repetition. Repetition is a necessary part of learning a language, but typing "The cat drinks milk" becomes redundant after you have typed it 200 times.


    DUO IS A THING OF MUDER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


    What i mostly hate about duoling is the fact that some of the people that create these languages (i have no other way to saying it but i hope you know what i mean by that) and use the wrong translation.

    Heck! It even says that you have to be a professional at english and your language on the duolingo incubator. Really pisses me off how they also use the wrong words IN THEIR OWN LANGUAGE.


    DUO IS A DEVIL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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