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https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AlexisLinguist

Open letter to the Duolingo community

To put it frankly, I don't feel like this is the same community I entered back in April 2014.

We sound colder.

We act more sensitively (and sometimes it can be to a fault).

We feel "exclusive", and that newcomers should earn a place here.

Over the past several months, the community that used to call themselves warm and one of the most friendly online is starting to show the same traces of less-friendly sites, and it's puzzling me. Did someone drop all of our toothbrushes in the toilet on the same day? Did we all get stuck in traffic? Maybe dinner was burnt?

Whatever the reason is, we don't exhibit that warmness and care that of a few months ago. It's not always fun to be a newcomer, but even more so when one isn't greeted warmly, and we haven't been doing that much. We get snappy when people ask for lingots, and retort with "get your own!" instead of simply pointing them to the Lingot Store info, or not commenting at all. Yes, the same question is repeated again and again, but if you don't have enough patience, it's better not to say anything.

We seem more apt to get irritated during simple discussions, and escalate the level to an argument when it shouldn't be anything to fight over at all. We are so quick to downvote now because of a trigger word. I understand, that rapid stream of spammers/trolls was taxing for everyone, but we can't let that sour us forever, right?

It's even spreading to Immersion, I hear about petty changes here and there that should not be happening, and these little tiffs continue to pop up. The Immersion side used to be more relaxed and enjoyable, but it seems like a continuous race to get XP, and step on anyone who dares to get in the way. I doubt this is what was envisioned for Immersion.

Why am I saying all this? In recent weeks, I've become disenchanted with Duolingo, though there are still bright spots in some places. I lack the same fire for it that I had when I started. It's not because I am bored by learning, or "new" features, but the reason I continued using the site was purely for the community, and I just don't have that reason at the moment. Of course, there are still stars that shine in the night sky, but as a whole, my feelings have chilled.

All I'm saying is that we should check ourselves, consider what we say twice instead of posting it. We can be better than this, I've seen that.

We're going to collapse on ourselves if we keep going like this, I don't doubt it. Do we really want that to happen?

Thanks for reading.

Alexis, a forum moderator for Duolingo.

January 6, 2015

159 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/GeniusJack

I've been here over a year now, and I think Alexis is right. Recently, I've been seeing more and more threads with simple questions being down voted. Sure, these questions have been asked thousands of times before. But, these are beginners, who don't know anything about the site. Down votes, or nasty comments will just turn them away. What they need, is polite comments, linking them to the Wiki, and wishing them luck.

January 6, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/GeniusJack

By the way, just saying: This post has gotten at least 5 down votes, I've been counting, subtracting the up from the down. When a rational, thought out, valid concern is down voted, this sort of proves her point.

January 6, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Moomingirl

Just up voted you for that Jack, as you had a downvote.

January 6, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/GeniusJack

Thanks, MG! Sort of proves the point again.

January 6, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rewjeo
  • 1633

I just watched that one in turn get downvoted.

Also, for anyone looking at this later, Jack's second post was downvoted at least once (I think twice) in five minutes, and it was made only 17 minutes after the first. That's a downvote on a perfectly lovely comment every 3-ish minutes. I suppose what I'll take out of this is that I should be more conscious about upvoting things.

January 6, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/thenoblesunfish

Perhaps part of the problem is that people are misinterpreting what downvotes mean. I rarely use them here on the forum for anything other than misinformation or spam, but on the question comment threads I use them for anything that isn't useful - there's too much "me too" and venting. Perhaps some people are applying the same logic to the message board and downvoting things simply because they aren't very useful?

January 6, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/yakireev

And it just got the 6th downvote, it was mine.

I do not like the "the grass is not as green and the water is not as wet as it used to be when I was young" talk, and dislike it even more when it comes from a moderator. That's why I downvoted it.

I also downvoted your comment too, because ostracizing people just for using a legitimate feature of a website is weird and circlejerk-y. These up and down arrows are there to provide a quick and easy way to express opinions about stuff, and these downvotes are legitimate opinions too. And it seems that you don't like these opinions.

So, basically your comment boils down to "how dare you to disagree?!". If that's not worth a downvote, then I don't know what is.

January 7, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/rollerotr

I am a newbie here. To read the moderator's post leaves me feeling that I got into Duolingo too late, the best is in the past. "breqwas" post speaks truths. And possibly the complaining oldtimers forgot what it was like when they were just starting out. Come on accomplished linguists, put a smile on my face!

January 8, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Alice54_Maree3.

Hi rollerotr.I have been here for over a year now and I can tell you that there are still a lot of nice people here.welcome to the community.Duolingo ,despite some difficulties is still a really good site for learning languages

January 10, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/rollerotr

HI Alice. Thanks for listening and responding!

January 11, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Lrtward

Interesting take on the use of a down vote. My own view differs.

I don't see the down vote as a way to indicate my disagreement with a post. I use the down vote to make a non-useful post "disappear". In other words, I see the down vote as a means to keep a post off of the "popular discussions" page, and as a flag to notify moderators that the post should be deleted due to containing gibberish or similar.

When I see a post I disagree with, rather than down voting, I post my own viewpoint or opinion, as I'm doing here. To me, a post that warrants thoughtful discussion is a good post, whether or not I agree with it.

January 7, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Erikash

On the plus side, as of right now, you have at least 90 upvotes.

January 7, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/bibeaults

I wonder if part of the problem is that downvotes are anonymous. It may very well be the same group of people trolling us all, but there it no way to know.

January 6, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf
<h1>Open answer to Alexis</h1>

I won't repeat what others have well said, but just add some views "from the inside", with about 30 months' experience here, and over 73,000 emails in my inbox:

  • We are tens of millions on Duo now; statistically, minorities may just be more visible, I think.
  • We are only human beings, all of us, silly at times, irritated at other times, but also nice and smart most of the time.
  • Everyday, Mods clean up forums and Incubators clean up reports in the system: everyday we push our rock up the hill and every night the rock rolls down to the bottom again.
  • The reason for our continuing is that we still get more satisfaction than frustration from our work.
  • Successful teaching and learning have one key component in common: repetition , so we all are on the same boat.
  • I don't know how many posts of mine were down-voted over time, because I don't care.
  • What I care about are the tons of thanks I have collected, from respectful and grateful people. Those pay for my time.

Thanks for your really nice and thoughtful warning. I'll pay extra attention to my (sometimes too) snappy comments.

Take some fresh air if you feel like it, but come back soon, the community needs you!

January 6, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AlexisLinguist

"We are only human beings, all of us, silly at times, irritated at other times, but also nice and smart most of the time."

Of course, I don't expect perfection, ha ha. I can just see some slippage here and there, that's what is prompting this post.

"What I care about are the tons of thanks I have collected, from respectful and grateful people. Those pay for my time."

So do I, nothing feels like appreciation does. Absolutely nothing.

"Take some fresh air if you feel like it, but come back soon, the community needs you!"

It's nice to know I'm needed. :)

January 6, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AnIsAPandah

Um DUH, of course you're needed! :D

January 7, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jess_fcs

Thank you, Sitesurf! When I have a question about a specific subject, I look for your comments and everything gets clearer. You were the only person who was able to teach me prepositions in French!

Pardon pour mon commentaire étrange, mais quand j'ai lu le votre, j'ai eu envie de vous dire merci. :) sorry for my mistakes.

January 6, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Jack.Elliot

you get a big thank from me

January 7, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Wildlight

Thank you for all your contributions to the people of Duolingo!

January 6, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/hellerm

Most days when I look at my activity page I see ten upon tens of sentence discussions you have commented on. Some I click on and look for your posts and still I can't find one where you didn't help somebody. Most times you help me! So for this inspiration and kindness, I thank you. Happy learning!

January 6, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/norteaga

Merci beaucoup pour ta aide Sitesurf, je suis très reconnaissant. Je ne peux pas écrire bien en français encore, mais je essaie écrire toujours.

January 9, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Moomingirl

I wonder if it's just fatigue. People see the same question over and over, start off being kind and helpful, then get sick of it and start downvoting.

I lack the calm patience of some people (looking at you, moderators!) who can keep saying the same thing over and over and over. I know that a lot of these people are new, and don't know better. I try to answer the occasional one, trust that other regulars will answer the occasional one, and between us all we'll cover a lot of it. Personally, if I'm feeling impatient and snippy, I stay out of the forums.

I do feel really sorry for you moderators having to spend a lot of your free time, out of the goodness of your hearts, cleaning up the same old questions, comments and issues every day. I find it particularly frustrating because it's all so unnecessary. All Duolingo has to do is put a FAQ section, or something like a tutorial that you have to go through before you can post in the forums (or work in immersion), that covers the basic issues that we see crop up time after time. They complain there is a lack of space in the forums, and yet one simple page could possibly prevent a huge proportion of those "I want Lingots", "Why no Chinese" "Hi Sally, you're my best friend" type posts that we all see every day.

Duolingo is going to do itself a huge disservice if it risks losing people of the calibre of AlexisLinguist and others, who volunteer a lot of their free time to make this a better place. They need to spend a little bit of time finding ways to make life here easier for the moderators, and better for everyone. I really hope it doesn't turn out like other sites I have seen, where moderators are seen as disposable and are run into the ground, just to be replaced with new ones who don't know better yet.

Hang in there Lexi, it would be a real shame to lose someone of your calibre!

January 6, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Hohenems

"They need to spend a little bit of time finding ways to make life here easier for the moderators..."

I'm hoping that the new "school" feature will eliminate a lot of the garbage posts.

Among other things, if Duo really wanted to help a moderator out

  • They'd require a validated email address to sign up, thus eliminating a lot of spam posts and downvoting
  • They would allow moderators to shadow ban users (even if it was just a temporary week long ban, or temporary until reviewed by staff, etc)
  • They would prevent users from blocking moderators from posting on their streams ("I didn't know that I wasn't allowed to tell people off because nobody told me. Boo hoo."). Seriously. Why is that even possible.
  • They would prevent users from deleting moderator posts on their streams (I would have been less likely to "warn" someone and more likely to just report them if I had been able to see the 5 other moderators' posts "warning" them). Again. Why is that even possible.
  • They would make the moderator shield visible 100% of the time so mods wouldn't have to introduce themselves every 2 seconds when posting to a stream ("Hi so and so, I'm a moderator for Duolingo. Please stop posting blah blah").

...to name but a few of the previously submitted suggestions off the top of my head.

Chasing after spammers to delete their posts, all the while going "tsk tsk...you shouldn't be doing that, please look at the guidelines" just to be told to go Schwarzenegger yourself, leaves little feeling of accomplishment/contribution and more a feeling of impotence....especially when the subsequent report goes unnoticed (or is noticed but nothing is done).

Moderators here are truly just garbage men/women that go around picking up litter and snitching to the actual cops. (Obviously no offence intended to Mods. Just expressing what I feel/felt.)

Sorry to use your post as a mild venting platform.

January 6, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Selcen_Ozturk

I couldn't agree more. It gets even more strange if you are moderating forums in a language that the staff does not speak (e.g. Turkish). Anyway they cannot decide if these people should be banned or not. And I especially don't get why they don't ask for a valid email address. This is especially not expected from the person who invented the captcha system to prevent spam

January 6, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Z.Shan

The struggle is real. Luis, please do something!

2015.01.06 EST

January 6, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ProwlingParis

Not requiring an email makes it significantly easier to hoard "users" and inflate the numbers. "TENS OF MILLIONS ARE USING OUR PRODUCT!" lol ^_^

January 8, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Deliciae

I was pretty baffled when I read that moderators can't ban people. Especially with "Support" being as slow as it is, but I think it's essential regardless.

Duolingo, if you trust someone enough to make them moderators in the first place, you should entrust them with the tools of the trade as well. These people are giving their valuable time, for free, yet you're just setting them up for a lot of frustration - and a burnout down the line.

January 6, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rewjeo
  • 1633

Or at least give them the power to temporarily mute people until the problem is resolved, even if you don't want to give them power to kick people off the site.

January 6, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Z.Shan

I completely agree with you! Being a moderator of the Chinese forums makes me feel rather impotent than accomplished.

In addition to all your suggestions, I think the comments and posts in our forums are badly in need of a "report as spam" button. This way, moderators will have a system to view and clear these spam reports.

Furthermore, Duolingo can even introduce a scheme to calculate the contribution percentage of forum moderators. For example: "number of spam reports handled by the moderator" divided by "number of total spam reports in the forums moderated by the moderator".

There should be a page displaying all the forum moderators (together with the forums they are moderating and their contribution percentage), very much like the webpages of language courses displaying the course contributors. New users can refer to this page when looking for help.

I always think that forum moderators are as important as the incubator contributors. Duolingo simply won't be Duolingo without them. They deserve to be more recognized.

2015.01.06 EST

January 6, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ayePete

Totally agree with ya!

January 7, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AlexisLinguist

"All Duolingo has to do is put a FAQ section, or something like a tutorial that you have to go through before you can post in the forums (or work in immersion), that covers the basic issues that "

There's an obvious lack of direction on the site. It's a lot of "figuring out", and a great majority of questions I see are from simply not knowing how to navigate the site. It works on the apps because there isn't much to do, but with all the different sides of the website, there really needs to be some official tutorial like you said.

"Hang in there Lexi, it would be a real shame to lose someone of your calibre!"

Thanks, Moomingirl. :)

January 6, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/annika_a

I was going to write something about the need for an FAQ, but Moomingirl "took the words out of my mouth", as we say. Also -- what self respecting discussion forum nowadays has such an unorganized way of organizing the threads?

January 6, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tabisi1

Yes, I agree! We need a FAQ page. I'm a newbie (started 2 weeks ago) and have been trying to figure all of this out. I haven't even tried the immersion yet because it just seems so overwhelming, and I'm not sure what to do.

January 9, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Usagiboy7

Hi tabisi1, I hope this WIKI can help! Please feel free to pass the link along when you meet other new Duolingoers. ^_^

January 9, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MultiLinguAlex

Well, I've been around for 459 days now and I agree with you. The DuoLingo community seemed to be warmer and there were generally very few trolls and negativity.

While I hated the fact that Ebay abandoned the negative votings some years ago, I would greatly appreciate the fact that DuoLingo would abandon them. Surely, that wouldn't prevent every troll to crawl out of his cave, but it would be a much better "feeling" - to have the feeling that the community incorporates less negativity, trolling, harsh comments or spam.

On the other side, it's not as negative as you might see it. But since you are a moderator, you generally read much more posts in depth than an average user. Thus, you read much more positive and negative comments every day and we know from psychological studies that those negative posts remain approximately five times more in your memorisation processes than the positive ones.

To put it into a nutshell: Be more aware of the positive comments, posts, encouragements. I highly doubt that "we're going to collapse on ourselves if we keep going like this."

Best, Alex

January 6, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/superdaisy

I think the downvotes are used to identify spammy posts, but that seems to be better served by actually having a "flag as spam/abuse." People might still abuse it, but the intent of the button is more clear. Plus, I think downvotes tend to get more downvotes, and a post flagged as spam would not be visible as such to others.

If downvotes serve any other purpose in addition to that and overall "this is a good comment," I am unaware of it.

January 6, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Arthurva

Good idea - have some lingots!

January 6, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AlexisLinguist

"To put it into a nutshell: Be more aware of the positive comments, posts, encouragements. I highly doubt that "we're going to collapse on ourselves if we keep going like this.""

I am definitely aware of the positive parts of this community, not a day goes by that I don't see something that reminds me why I started using the site in the first place. But, I don't want to ignore the other side that I am starting to see more. And, I do see more as a moderator, because I am in more places. But, that wider perspective I have means I can't just let it go on without at least saying something. I may not be able to do everything I want to prevent it, but I can bring it to the forefront and try to find a solution. :)

January 6, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Jack.Elliot

With a Scottish smile

Joy can be found

Into Duolingo land

just smile and laugh

with German French

And Polish Dutch

each within has niceness

as all indeed they have

Just spread some little happiness

and take each day it comes

take the speck within your eye

before you notice the plank in mine

all is well

that ends well

January 6, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Selket62

Thank you - you are one of the lights that shine on Duolingo. Encouraging, motivating, always friendly, patient and peaceful.

January 6, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/2014siri

hast du wieder schön gesagt! / You found wonderful words again!

January 6, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/aaditsingh8

Wow, somebody had downvoted your comment. Here you go with 5 lingots for this awesome poem! I've always seen nice comments by you!

January 6, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/2014siri

wonderful!

January 6, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AnIsAPandah

Have a lingot! :D

January 6, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CLMekvold

Is that a german rhyming scheme? I have seen things similar on here, typically on the german boards

January 6, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TheKidInTheBlock

Thank you...again...and again !! :-)

January 7, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Jack.Elliot

you are welcome

you are a star

brings so much that is nice

learning so fast with a great style

excellent

January 7, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TheKidInTheBlock

I don't know what to say... Are you sure you are writing to me ? I guess I should say thank you then... Have a nice day, despite yesterday. As they say in German : Morgen ist auch ein Tag.

January 8, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Jack.Elliot

Morgen ist auch ein tag

indeed

January 8, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PC-Duo

From the perspective of a "newcomer" I came to Duolingo because of it's social aspect. Through many sources I have access to some high quality paid software, but it doesn't encourage me, doesn't reward me for doing well, and most certainly can't answer questions from a human perspective. Duolingo and it's community on the other hand is very good at encouraging, rewarding, and answering any odd questions I might have, and though the same problems exist here that exist on any other social website, I have found the community to be very welcoming and helpful. Yes there is bitterness, needless down voting, unsportsmanlike competition, superiority, and occasional rudeness, but the same problems also plague any other site with social features. The only difference of duolingo to any other site is this, we are all here for the same basic reasons, to learn, to broaden our horizons, to expand our minds, to learn things most choose to forsake, and most of all to do all of these things together, as a community not as an individual.

This is duolingo, a community of incredible diversity, all coming together in a common pursuit, all trying to learn how to communicate with other peoples and connect on a level otherwise impossible. No matter what struggles our community faces, we always will know exactly why we are here, and I will always know, that through all of the boring methods I have to use, through all of the overpriced junk that is pushed on any new language learner, there is a place where I belong, a place where people from all walks of life, from all over the world come to learn and to share, a place where we all belong, not because of who we are, what we do, where we're from or anything else, but because we all know the struggle of learning something "foreign" to us, and for that reason we came here, and we support one another.

I for one am thankful, for the privilege of being able to be a part of this community, for the creators and their vision, for living in this wondrous time when knowledge is just a mouse click away, and for the fact that I don't have to enjoy this privilege alone but instead with the world. There was a time when language learning was something people dreaded, something that was a necessary evil, but this site, helps to make it an enjoyable process, a place to make new friends and to encourage one another, a place to remind us that we're not alone, we're not just a username on some language learning tool, we are people, different perhaps, but the same in so many ways, and though we struggle to coexist on this site and the world, we also learn more about one another every day, here we learn how to communicate, both through language and custom, and a friendship usually begins with one simple word "Hello". Duolingo serves one major purpose aside from the obvious, it makes that first "Hello" possible, and not just hello but: Hallo, Hola, Bonjour, Nei Ho, Kon-nichiwa, Ahalan, Saluton, and so many more, all the people of the world, all waiting for their Hello, and we are the people that chose to say it, the people that choose culture over complacency and learning over laziness, for these reasons people come here, and for this they stay, that Duolingo is so much more than a place to learn a language, it is a place to grow in understanding of the world around us, and the people separated to us only because we cannot speak with them.

There you have it, the 'newcomer' perspective. I hope my insight has helped you understand a bit better why people come here, overlooking any flaws and stay in spite of them.

January 6, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AlexisLinguist

"Yes there is bitterness, needless down voting, unsportsmanlike competition, superiority, and occasional rudeness, but the same problems also plague any other site with social features. "

The only thing that bothers me about that is Duolingo didn't use to have this level of "snappiness" (I don't know a proper synonym for the definition of the word that fits). I know we can be better, and we need to work toward that.

But, thank you for sharing. :) I'm glad you have enjoyed your time on Duolingo so far!

January 6, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/finn.fr

I definitely think that Alexis is right on this...although I (think) I joined DL pre-Alexis, I started utilizing the website, and specifically the discussion right around the same time as Alexis...The sad thing is that we used to be proud of the fact that we existed without "the same problems that also plague any other site with social features"....the crazy thing is that we didn't have ANY of that.

Everybody needs to try and remember their first few times on this website, when you had no idea why such a great site didn't have Chinese or Japanese, or why there were skills with 10 lessons (tbh I'm still not sure about the latter;) and not just try to be, but be a kind, accepting, and positive force in this community. Alexis is (thankfully) catching this problem early, and with effort, we can restore this community to the glory it once knew.

Gracias :)

January 6, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ayePete

Nice post!

January 7, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Delta1212

As someone that's been here for two months and change now, I can't comment on how things were in the past, but I can say that I haven't had any really negative experiences here and I've had lots of positive ones.

Just throwing out my two cents.

January 6, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Far_1

Yep, agreed. Been on here 2 maybe 3 weeks and actually thought the community was pretty dang awesome (mods and regular peeps) if i think the community is nice now, i would love to see how it was way back when. That being said, i admire this post and the original poster would know better than me.

January 6, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Utnapis

The same. Have been reading the discussions daily for four months, and haven't really noticed any change.

Then again I never do immersion, and tend to skip any discussion threads with multiple downvotes, unless the topic is especially interesting. Probably for the latter reason I'm also never bothered by (and rarely even notice) the "spam" people sometimes complain about.

January 6, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/kristinemc

Hi! Thanks everyone for sharing your perspective on this. We definitely want to improve the moderator experience and the tools available to them, and we're prioritizing and going over internally how we can do this right now. As the community grows, we have to work together to make sure this is a healthy and positive language learning community. Appreciate everyone who puts effort into doing exactly this. We are going to figure out more ways to recognize all of your incredible contributions! It is our understanding that the most pressing issue right now is the time it takes to address forum spam/trolling issues, would this be one of the biggest issues to address with a feature solution? Also, moderator recognition within the forum was mentioned as a priority. Let's all commit to keeping Duolingo's forums a place of inspiration and positivity. We can all do our part by being mindful when contributing to this community.

January 6, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AlexisLinguist

It is our understanding that the most pressing issue right now is the time it takes to address forum spam/trolling issues, would this be one of the biggest issues to address with a feature solution?

Yes, it is. We simply do not have the tools we need to fully moderate this community. As we have more responsibility than typical moderators on sites do, we need tools they do not usually have. Right now, the situation is more "you have a badge, go do something with it" than us actually being prepared to moderate, and that's an issue, because we have to feel around in the dark to determine how to act, and guidance is needed sometimes.

Also, moderator recognition within the forum was mentioned as a priority.

Not just within the forum, but on profiles as well. As Hohenems said about having to state we are moderators each time, making the ring permanent for our profile pictures, instead of just being visible in forums, is much better. Also to his point about deletion of our warnings or blocking us, I agree that users should not be able to do either. If we are to do our jobs, users violating the guidelines shouldn't be able to shut us out and continue on.

January 6, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Usagiboy7

I do have a concern with users not being able to block us. If a user feels threatened or harassed by a moderator, I want them to be able to block us while having staff review the situation. There is always a possibility that some day Duolingo will wind up with a bad egg wearing a ring.

Shadow ban. How many shadow ban buttons do we want released into the forums to deal with the relatively few "emergency" situations that arise each month that might warrant their usage? This is a learning environment. At no time should sincere participants ever have cause to fear getting shadow banned. Please include, with any such feature, strict specifications for when we are allowed to use it, such as "xyz emergency case scenarios only" And we need clearly set out consequences for if we mis-use it.

That said, spending 2 hours chasing a poop troll around on an ailing laptop, then waking up the next day to do it all over again warmed me to the idea that perhaps something useful was missing from my console. I don't want a button that keeps people from accessing the course, just discussion and course feedback buttons while we wait for staff to review the situation if need be.

Ranking moderators by spam removal. I do not support this idea. It encourages moderators to stick around rather than handing the situation to another moderator who might have fresher senses for it who is better able to serve in that instance. Our community building is something I'm proud of. The sincere learners, i want to connect with them and help them succeed. Sometimes clearing a bit of spam can help them.. But, it's such a small part of what I do. I don't want to over focus on it and I don't want to have points dictating my decision as to whether to spend my time looking for trouble, or teaching people how progress to the next level, add a new course, and change their profile picture. I'm not just a forum moderator. I'm a Duolingo forum moderator and that's tied into community building and service. It's part of my identity. I don't want that to change into "I'm that person who deleted the most stuff." Hopefully, this makes sense. :)

January 8, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/kristinemc

Yea, that's what we're thinking too, AlexisLinguist. A better way to distinguish. We give you moderator guidelines and from there the idea is that you are supposed to get in touch with questions. Many moderators do this - especially in the beginning. We can expand our onboarding.

January 6, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AlexisLinguist

I felt in the beginning, obviously not now after four months of experience and contact with other mods behind the scenes, that there were times where things were a little too "open to interpretation", and that guessing could sometimes end up hurting the community because of a mod misstep, so being more direct about what goes and what doesn't would be fantastic.

January 6, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Dessamator

I think the biggest problem with the community is the lack of information available to newbies as well as seasoned users:

  1. Guidelines FAQ are hard to find see for newbies.
  2. Neither users, staff nor moderators have tools to guide users to where they can obtain more information. I've personally seen moderators repeating the same definition and description hundreds of times, e.g. the the difference between "au vs en".

Most of these problems could be greatly reduced or even eliminated by the creation of SUB-FORUMS and perhaps something like the autowikibot which could be modded to answer language based questions. That way people only interact in the forums they are interested in and avoid posts they are uninterested in, and the bot can take care of incredibly repetitive/ nonsensical questions which elicit downvotes and/or "mean/angry" replies. A good tool for moderators would either be a tool to gag a spammer in the forums and/or revert all their recent posts from a particular day.

This is incredibly important for sentence discussions which contain a lot of disorganized insights and information, and is where most moderators probably spend most of their time cleaning up.

January 8, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Usagiboy7

After recently visiting a forum elsewhere that did not provide forum moderators with as many opportunities to be part of the forums as anything other than stick shakers and participation blockers, my view of good moderator tools has changed. The community over there treated moderators and the parent company as "the enemy" even though people loved the resources there. Every contact was a fight and it was a giant, unhappy place because the dynamic was a continuous power struggle, encouraged by the environment of super charged tools and a lack of reasons for moderators to engage in purely positive ways.

I now see regular opportunities to engage in community building as the most essential feature Duolingo needs to maintain our access to.

I also think we have a different idea of what makes a perfect forum. I envision a forum where it is easy to encounter discussions one wasn't looking for because this is a community and part of the joy is discovering things we didn't realize we would appreciate finding.

In place of a wiki-bot, I'd rather see a Google caliber search bar for the forums with time stamped search results that mark whether or not the user doing the search had participated there and a color coded starring system for sorting search results when looking for something specific that we've come across before. (More than one color for different kinds of bookmarks For example, a language resource, a staff comment, a user comment. etc.) :)

January 8, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Dessamator

A Google search only works if people know what they are looking for. Sometimes a user hardly understands what they are experiencing or what they need. S

More importantly more posts will be created with the same topics and questions regardless of how well the search engine is designed because people will not spend time combing through search results. A sub-forum makes more sense because people at least have some guidance.

As for war between moderators and users. Well that depends on how moderators carry out their tasks. In forums such as battle.net the moderators tend to be respected because of their expertise and role in liaising between staff and users. They even have a MVP program that consists of good posters who have been recognized and given special icons and different colored text, and who also communicate with staff/users and help them.

Regardless of how it looks like, the discussion stream is more like a bazaar rather than a forum. People just shout wherever, about whatever they want and searching in a bazaar is just as horrible.

January 8, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Usagiboy7

The current discussion stream layout is a fast moving mess. :(

It is not currently possible for Duolingo moderators to function like battle.net moderators. We are not able to be that kind of liason between staff and users. So we cannot use their model to build rapport.

January 8, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Usagiboy7

That post is a year old. The community has grown millions while staff is still somewhere around 32, and there is now the incubator. So, as it is I generally interact with staff when they acknowledge I've sent in a report with a thank you. We don't have meetings or anything like that. And the time delay for anything other than a report acknowledgements has become noticeably longer because of how much staff is balancing.

The MVP system looks awesome. It would require a larger block of Staff time to pull off though. Forum moderators don't receive memo's on test groups (of which several often run at one time) or of the 1x3week website changes that take place. We have to figure it all out as we go and try to keep track of what is still current. So, who is trusted with handing out MVP votes if we're all scrambling? (You can mark this for weak spot #2)

January 8, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Dessamator

Well, then you've found the weakness in the current system that needs to be addressed.

Also according to kristinemc[1] : "The moderators are also considered leaders in the community and many are in touch with the team regularly".

In battle.net, the MVP is a different kind of user anyway, they do not have any moderator powers. Aside from a cute icon and different coloured text to make them stand out, the only role they have is to help users and liaise with staff sometimes.

See [2] for more info or [3].

I do understand why they don't award liaison powers to moderators, they already fulfill too many roles, and frankly there's too many of you (200 or or more). So the chances of someone stepping out of line or giving the wrong information is greater.

MVPs are by definition very few to prevent misinformation.

January 8, 2015

[deactivated user]

    I joined about 6 weeks ago and I was using Duolingo exclusively on the app for some time. Then I started using the website and sometimes, I felt like I was being attacked by some users and then there is the whole upvote-downvote vibe which is basically destructive to a new comer. It's not the whole community. It's only some individuals.

    January 6, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Lenkvist

    I think it is too easy to blame a few individuals. In that way, people can continue blaming others without reflecting about their own behaviour.

    This is a community issue because the community dictates what is acceptable or not. If we all get a little grumpier, it will have a larger impact than the occasional spammer.

    January 6, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/GregHullender

    I think it's the same as it was when I joined a year ago. Most people are really nice. They help when they can and they're grateful when you help them. Yeah, there are a few jerks, but there always have been. Immersion in particular has always had a mix of the good and the bad.

    Yesterday someone made a reply to a comment I'd posted five or so months ago in which I had explained the grammar in one of Duo's Spanish sentences. I'd hardly looked at that thread since I first posted it, but I opened it anyway and was surprised to see that my comment had attracted ~100 upvotes and ~50 lingots from people passing through who wanted to say thanks. It almost made me cry.

    That's the real Duolingo, and it hasn't gone anywhere. Don't let the bad guys grind you down. :-)

    January 6, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AlexisLinguist

    That's the real Duolingo, and it hasn't gone anywhere. Don't let the bad guys grind you down. :-)

    Not in a million years, Greg! But I won't simply ignore them (and not to say that everyone who does these things is bad, they may not even be aware they are doing so) and hope a magical fairy banishes them...mainly because I play the role of that fairy. ;) So, if I can at least make us all aware of this fact, as I do see a great deal because moderators work all over the site and on profiles in quieter corners of Duolingo, then I will do so. It's not my nature to just stay silent and keep going on. I get loud and keep going on. :)

    January 6, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/NancyMihalich

    Well said, Greg! I truly appreciate your grammar help on my linguistic pursuit!

    January 6, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MusingThoughts

    As a newcomer I felt left out and I felt many people here were cold and haughty. I didn't know how to use the forums and only one person took the time to explain things to me.

    And then when you ask a single useful question u get down voted by heaps. I think people are just automatically downvoting

    January 6, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Arthurva

    Yeah, not good if your Language Obsessed, is it! Have a lingot.

    January 6, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MusingThoughts

    Yeah not good!

    Thanx for the lingo!

    January 7, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Arthurva

    Thanks Alexis for raising this - and yes I have also seen this. I am wondering whether having been with Duolingo so long makes one a little stale, especially if one has not had a break.

    I had a 560 days streak when through an unfortunate set of circumstances I defaulted by a few hours .... and lost it all. CALAMITY, I thought .... but actually it wasn't - it was a real release! I had not thought that learning languages without a break could lead to making one a little chippy every now and then, finding fault with this or that - but the month long break that I had was fantastic and has changed all that!

    Now that I am back again I have a novice streak ... but the joy of learning languages is back in full force. This is such a FANTASTIC website - it is unbelievably generous .... so how can we not be generous too? All those niggles from the past are gone after a good rest.

    As in every learning system, one has to have vacation now and then ... it really makes all the difference. It is the streak that hold one bound without a break. Now if one could 'BUY vacation' with ones lingots, say each time one has completed a 100 days streak (even if just for a week) - that would provide a break to regain ones perspective.

    I think some of us 'old-timers', and I don't mean in age but in streak, should get some time out, I think the community would be much warmer for it. That is my take on things, talking from experience!

    January 6, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Wildlight

    That's a great idea to have a 'BUY vacation' feature at milestones! Great job on your streak of 560!!

    January 6, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/aaditsingh8

    I've been here for two years. When I started, I was very bad at Spanish, and whenever i said something wrong, there were people who said "no i don't think so" or "I feel/I'm afraid you're wrong this time" and there were also some people who said "are you out of your mind?" and " Oh you're so wrong!". So there are these kinds of people everywhere. I liked it when their were those to 'revolutions'- the words tab one and the Dutch and Irish at 99% one. Many people had put up their views. Again there were some people who said "wow the words tab may come back!" or "Um, I don't think I'm going to use it" and people who said "O why this A/B thing? Just make it available for everyone!" and "No I don't want this!".

    What I mean is yes, personally, I've seen the spams and trolls increasing. I like the duolingo community a lot. When I started the negative comments were very less, during the revolutions, they were noticeable, and now they are increasing, but they are still not so abundant. The best thing about discussions is that inappropriate comments get hidden as nice people downvote them. But down voting is for that, not to play a prank on someone. I've seen many good and useful comments being downvoted. And something needs to be done to stop this.

    Lastly I would like to say that maybe some people get offended by other people's comments, and if someone got offended by mine then I'm truly sorry. But if that is the case, we should at least apologize and not criticize them more by keeping our ego above everything else. And as Alexis said, we should consider our comment twice and then post it.

    Let's just try to maintain the kind duolingo community.

    January 6, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/alexinIreland

    I've been here for about a year and a half, and I am experiencing exactly what you outlined in this post. I don't know if the community is changing because it is getting so big, or for another reason unbeknownst to me, but I hope this post makes a difference and people will think twice about what they say, etc. I wish I could give 1,000 you upvotes, Alexis, but unfortunately, I am limited to one ;)

    January 6, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AnIsAPandah

    I agree! Came here in 2012 to a bright, positive and awesome community. I've been here for 2.5 years, so I know that you can change. It's like you've lost the light in you. So come on, brighten up, and smile.

    January 6, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AnIsAPandah

    4 years O.O

    February 1, 2016

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/xGequili

    I've been using Duolingo since November 29, 2014 up until now. I only used the mobile app for about half a month but then I started using it on a computer and I've had a great experience in the discussion section. I've seen a few things pop up and many posts downvoted, but for me it has been great. I love the fact that we are all here learning a language(s) and I love to help others and get help so I can't really fathom why others would act sour. But with all that being said, I hope you, Alexis, and everyone else on here has a great day :)

    January 6, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ontalor

    If someone could just design a Duolingo version of "Let me google that for you," I would just use that to respond to all redundant question posts. As of now I just skip them because they have worn me out, but I don't think it's quite fair they get downvoted.

    January 6, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Selket62

    I've been here for 123 days and I was lucky to meet only friendly and helpful people on Duolingo. I never thought that I would like to learn English so much. But I noticed that many articles in the immersion were downvoted during the last weeks and I don't now why. I upvote them even when I am not specially interested in the themes. And I agree to 2014Siri that there are some very bad articles in the German to English immersion, that are lacking respect to other people. I wonder if there is a troll who did both - downvoting normal articles and putting bad articles into the immersion. But i think, Duolingo will stand it, because of the good community, the ability to reflect and the willingness to get better. ...and the patience to read postings from someone who is just learning English ;-)

    January 6, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sundaes

    For someone just learning English, your post is pretty good! There's only a few minor mistakes. :) Keep up the good work.

    January 6, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/superdaisy

    Honestly, I agree. I've only been using the forums for a few months (I used the app exclusively prior to that). In the last month or two, I've had to step back from the forums occasionally because I notice myself getting mean or snotty. The overall tone can influence you in ways you don't necessarily realize. Like, if everyone's in a bad mood, you're likely to respond negatively even when you don't intend to do so.

    Thanks for the reminder.

    January 6, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AlexisLinguist

    The overall tone can influence you in ways you don't necessarily realize.

    Exactly. It may only be a "few" individuals (few being relative), but those few can spoil the bunch if we aren't careful. And it's not even that it's always intentional, just for whatever reason, we are more snarky when we reply, or we overreact. But, if we can influence each other in that way, it also means we can influence each other in the opposite way. Even now, I can tell that users are making an extra effort to not let the same question get to them, and acting as if the question has never been asked before. We have to keep going like that, I'm sure we can. :)

    January 6, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/elishevabb

    It's interesting you write this because I have noticed a lot of downvoting and a lot of lingot requests. Both of which I find strange. Although I usually give a lingot if asked. I have over 400 and don't know what to do with them anyway. Maybe the downvoting could just be removed, and have an option for reporting violations which have to be substantiated. Most people who click to downvote will be too lazy to write something. And I second the request for a prominently placed FAQ, or "start here" tab.

    Having said that my overrall experience of duolingo has been very positive. I brushed up French and Spanish, and am now working on Italian. And I've had positive experiences with other users.

    So please keep up your good work. It really is appreciated.

    January 6, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Danmoller

    I've seen that kind of decaying in a community I used to participate A LOT.
    I think it's just natural for old people to cool down and after a while a whole new batch come in.....(after a period when they think they are the almighty rulers of the place, all new incomers shall pay tribute).

    But something really important I've seen in your post....

    I really noticed myself feeling like starting to get upset because of questions repeated over and over.
    Of course I never answered them badly, but it made me think a lot about many teachers I had.
    Do they allow themselves to get upset for repeated questions??? A teacher should never ever allow himself to fall into that pit.

    I mean, of course questions are repeated to helpers, but we shall always remember, everytime it comes from a different person. Of course that person is not wrong for asking, that is probably the key question for all learners. Patience is absolutely necessary for those who teach. The same question WILL ALWAYS pop-up. Does that make us bored??? Well....we shall always remember: our 1.000.000th question is still that person's first....

    January 6, 2015

    [deactivated user]

      You made some very good points. I'm still kind of a newcomer here but not a newcomer to forums so I didn't ask questions. I used to be a moderator on a forum and many times I would get the same question over and over. I had to in my mind treat it it as if it was the first time I heard that question. For the person asking it was. Every forum I've been a part of has had this decaying happen eventually.

      January 6, 2015

      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ms.mm

      "Well....we shall always remember: our 1.000.000th question is still that person's first...." yes! Loved reading that Danmoller!

      January 7, 2015

      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/makiminami

      I agree. I've been here for almost 8 months, and the warm, friendly community I've known has become cold and arrogant. When 8 months ago we would have greeted a newcomer warmly, now it seems everyone will downvote and just shoo the newcomer away for "violating" the guidelines. Yes, we should always follow the guidelines, and those of any other site, but we should try to say it in a calm, kind way. Some users just did it because they didn't know, so why yell at them to go away and take care of their own business? If I violated the guidelines and was yelled at like that, would I want to stay here very long? Not very likely, and I also wouldn't get very far to be where I am today, and where many other people are right now, if we hadn't been warm and friendly 8 months ago.

      January 6, 2015

      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/2014siri

      Thank you for your post! Have some lingots from a German English/French learner who enjoys every day on DL, meeting so many friendly companions. It changed sometimes in the last year - I started nearly one year ago - it was frustrating, I got downvotes a.s.o... but I did not give up, I shared time with friendly translators, let others beside - and learned so much. I got friends all over the world. In last december I had a visitor from Australia at home, that I got to know on DL. The discussion on your post shows me, that there are so many people, who want DL to advance. But recently I noticed some very bad articles uploaded in Immersion. There must be a good overlooking! Good luck to you and "We can be better than this, I've seen that". That's so right and it's worth to work on it! All the best! (sorry, I'm an English learner)

      January 6, 2015

      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AnIsAPandah

      Everything is perfect except for a couple of little things.

      There must be a good overlooking.

      Try, Immersion should have a good check.

      Good luck to you and "We can be better than this, I've seen that."

      Good luck to you. "We can be better than this, I've seen that.

      That's so right and it's worth to work on it!

      That's so right and it's worth working on it!

      But overall, awesome job! Good luck with any future English studies.

      January 6, 2015

      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/2014siri

      Wow, thank you for your proofreading ;-)

      January 6, 2015

      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ReidHT

      I totally agree. I've been here for only half a year, but I've noticed significant disdain in regard to newcomers increase in the past few months, and so much unnecessary downvotes, and people just being plain rude in Immersion. (I was once downvoted for not having a PERIOD in one of my sentences in Immersion.)

      January 6, 2015

      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SebastianMolin

      There has been a lot of "things" happening in French immersion... I barely see it happen in Italian, but I do believe this is a major problem!!! - Plus I think that we ourselves became a little "cold"....

      January 6, 2015

      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AlexisLinguist

      It's just about basic respect we are talking about, most of the time. The fact that people who don't have their names and pictures attached to their accounts are indeed anonymous can make some feel as if they can say and do anything, without any consequences. Seems that the Golden Rule is a bit rusty as of late.

      January 6, 2015

      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/owenscao

      I hadn't noticed the increased negativity on Duolingo, but thank you for bringing it to my attention. This makes me want to get more involved in the Duolingo community so that I can further encourage and motivate others to learn foreign languages. I have met many wonderful people on Duolingo and I have converted many of my friends into Duolingo fanatics. I initially came to Duolingo to brush up on my Spanish, but I stayed with Duolingo because I fell in love with its community! You get to learn a foreign language while making friends from anywhere in the world! How awesome is that!

      I don't even understand why people would downvote positivity. Why wouldn't we want to leave the world a better place? Every interaction we make is a chance to do good. I would rather uplift and encourage people any day.

      Also, there is no such thing as a stupid question. Rather, it is stupid to not ask a question about something you don't understand because you will only remain uninformed and this could inhibit your growth.

      There is no perfect science to translating. Let's embrace each other's questions and answers.

      :)

      A downvote will only motivate me to spread more happiness!!!

      January 7, 2015

      [deactivated user]

        I agree with you 100% so I gave you a lingot.

        January 7, 2015

        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/owenscao

        Thanks! :)

        January 7, 2015

        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Artilex

        I think the problems about people asking for lingots are caused by the way people ask for them now.

        Before it was more like "Can someone please give me a couple of lingots so I can buy the test"

        • They said "please" and they told us why they want them.

        What they say now is either: A. "GIVE ME LINGOTS" or B. "I NEED LINGOTS FOR TEST!!"

        • Very demanding

        Immersion problems

        Normally, when I edit someone's translation, I tell them why I translated it. (Unless it is completely obvious like someone translating completely wrong, spam etc...)

        Now people don't give the reasons why and they downvote before editing. Like, is it a big deal enough to downvote someone that forgot a period or something?

        OR

        People make small changes like fussing over the way the date's order is and other stuff. Then the person with the original translation translates it back and then something that I call a "translation war" starts. They edit everything that the person did on the article then discussions about "Someone is randomly downvoting me" start popping up and so on. Is it really necessary to get into this big immersion war over one sentence? No.

        January 7, 2015

        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Artilex

        People are leaving Duolingo because rude users and spammers and how the community is now "broken". I agree, this site isn't what it used to be. The moderators try their best to keep Duolingo a nice place but they still can't get everyone. No one can. One of the ways I can see Duolingo fixing this is Making spammers accounts instantly deleted. I don't want this to happen. Why? Because most spammers will spam once on Duolingo before realizing that they shouldn't do it. Most of the spam is just people saying "hi, I'm new to Duolingo". They don't realize it's spam until someone tells them.

        What do you think about this?

        January 7, 2015

        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/dagurlgurl

        So true! I agree! People down vote for no reason sometimes! :( Not personally for me, but, we should just every now and then remind users of the guidelines, because these things can be forgotten sometimes..

        January 6, 2015

        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DogePamyuPamyu

        Omg I joined a few months ago. Must be me. xD

        I really haven't noticed that big of a change since I joined. So this is probs all due to my occasional sass lol.

        The only thing I've noticed an influx of is people who post things like "YES! Am welcome to Duolingo! Thank you, hola como ca va!?" as a topic title with a post like "Hello!" and I'm just sitting there reading it like "Um hola have you never used the internet before"... I notice lots of those posts get downvotes too.

        Downvotes are a problem, they make me feel really butthurt. They should only have upvotes lol.

        January 6, 2015

        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/superdaisy

        The "Hello! This is great!" posts are nice in their positivity and all, but they do get annoying very quickly. They also clutter up the forums, and the forums don't need help being less functional.

        I help mod a forum elsewhere on the internet, and one thing we found cut down on the pointless, repetitive posts was to post guidelines and a FAQ at the top. The guidelines link for Duolingo as a whole is stuck all the way down at the bottom of the page. If we had a "READ THIS FIRST" sort of post that was stickied to every forum board, we could have more control over setting the tone.

        January 6, 2015

        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DogePamyuPamyu

        Okay I feel like Duolingo is really special though because there isn't a swarm of spam nazi moderators deleting posts, giving out warnings and banning people.

        On other forums I've been banned for stupid things and been giving countless warnings for posting in the wrong forum, or having a word like "crap" in one of my posts. But on Duolingo everyone pretty much behaves themselves and I never see any trolling or bullying or anything.

        If there were like "READ! RULES FOR PARTICIPATION!" at the top and the moderators started cracking down more, I feel like Duolingo would become a really annoying place. I think how the moderators handle everything is perfect as it is -- they just post on your stream and tell you in the nicest way possible to stop and everything is cool. :3

        January 6, 2015

        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/superdaisy

        But many of the repetitive posts are from people who genuinely can't find the really basic answer that should be a LOT easier to access. Right now, the guidelines AND the FAQ are both well-hidden.

        I'm not suggesting that things are handled any more strongly than they are. I'm just suggesting that two very useful tools are made more useful. Maybe instead of "read this first" the title is instead "FAQ and Intro"?

        January 6, 2015

        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/kalliona

        Some people may have more difficulty finding this information because they do not speak or read English anywhere near fluently. There seem to be a number of people in the German for English speakers course whose posts and translations in English are full of mistakes and sometimes very difficult or impossible to understand. I wonder if there would be a tactful way to welcome them to Duolingo, because it's totally legit to learn the basic German taught here via English even if you only have a B1 level in English, but make it clear that they are not really the target audience for the course. I'm doing Spanish for French speakers and I know I'm not the target audience and don't plan to participate in Immersion.

        January 6, 2015

        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/hellerm

        They should make something like they have for sentence discussions. A red box that pops up and says: STOP THE CLUTTER READ GUIDELINES! This might be enough to stop some spam. I know whenever I see that I double check my post.

        January 6, 2015

        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/superdaisy

        Another forum I'm on, Ravelry, has a sidebar on the new post window. When you give your new post a title and tags, that sidebar automatically populates with forum posts that might be related to your question.

        It is a brilliant feature and I wish every forum had it. It doesn't prevent people from making their own post, nor does it chastise them for doing so. Instead, it simply points out pre-existing material, cuts down on repetition, and collects discussion that might otherwise be spread out among zillions of posts.

        January 7, 2015

        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/blue.skies

        I tried to contribute to a translation through Immersion once, and haven't ever touched it again after I was immediately jumped all over by a previous contributor. I've no doubt that the Immersion tool would greatly enhance my learning, but I've been too scared to ever try again. :/

        January 7, 2015

        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Arthurva

        Yeah, I know. People become too engrossed in their own translation work to give others some space. Its a pity!

        January 7, 2015

        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tariqnisarahmed

        Think of a city with 30 million inhabitants. Not likely that it would be as warm and friendly as when the same city only contained hundreds of thousands of people, much less only hundreds of people.

        Also, just think about what kind of people were joining Duolingo, say 1-2 years ago (or more in the site's beta phase)? I think a significant number back then came here after being inspired by a friend or by watching Luis's Ted talk. Even if people today are joining Duolingo with the same language learning goals, perhaps they come with different inspirations, or a different sense of wonder.

        Or perhaps there are much better explanations. :) But the same result, I think. Use Duolingo and contribute to Duolingo as much as makes you feel good.

        January 7, 2015

        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ALoUSyUseRnaME

        Now that you've mentioned it, I think I've just realized your point. I've been avoiding the forums and immersion for quite a while, since I'd spend way too much time, and I really needed to review my tree and I haven't been having a lot of time.

        On the extreme occasional day I'd look in the discussion area, and see that in the new tab, there was a lot of ''spam''. (Not spam, newcomers' questions that others consider spam) I didn't really look into it, but it makes me sad to think that us duolinguists would treat others that way.

        January 7, 2015

        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/IAmJon

        I don't post on these all that often mainly because no real discussion ever takes place. I think there is a lot of groupthink on these forums. I remember posting something about my difficulties learning German on here and how I found someone's motivational post not at all motivational, it was downvoted. People seem to be really positive on here not really negative and no one ever goes against the grain or says anything controversial. It seems like you can't really have a differing opinion without being downvoted, everyone seems to respond the same way, no interesting alernate view points are posted. Often before reading a thread, you know how people are going to respond to it.

        The forums for french issues etc are better though, less posts and more quality. also the individual ones for sentences in the lessons are essential.

        January 7, 2015

        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Delta1212

        I've now taken to upvoting pretty much anything that has 0 or negative votes unless it's both off topic and offensive. Interesting side-effect is that I notice myself just generally feeling more positive in how I want to respond to people in the discussions simply because giving out the positive votes seems to put me in a positive, friendly mood.

        January 8, 2015

        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Usagiboy7

        Loved reading this. ^_^

        January 8, 2015

        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/norteaga

        Thank you for the open letter, this remembered me why I signed up and stayed in DL. I wouldn't learned, whatever I had learned, without all the help of the community. Thank you guys!

        January 7, 2015

        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Mitchell_MT

        I've been on this website for over a year now, and your open letter has a great impact on me. I couldn't believe how oblivious I've been towards the hatred that impacted the community. I believe that everybody, including myself, needs to take a deep breath and just reflect. Reflect on how over time the community has been a warm, welcoming community. And reflect on how we can bring that back.

        January 7, 2015

        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/aIpinestar

        My guess is that people are frustated because they miss their xp-bar.

        January 7, 2015

        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/GregfromOZ

        I think you try leaning German! That's where it's happening. It's like the Lion King - only in German. Every question I asked got answered in the most delightful way. It's more like the Sound of Music over here and there is always room for one more Maria. Danke alle meine Deutsche Freunden! We are doing it!

        January 7, 2015

        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jeanprendiville

        The same goes for Greek.

        January 7, 2015

        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MoxieZhang

        I'm relatively new in the duolingo community. What I feel it is actually a warm and helpful community here. Was it even nicer?

        January 7, 2015

        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Phong.

        I haven't levelled up to the level of using Immersion, so I didn't know about this coldness. But I will never be rude, cold-hearted as you witnessed. You have my word.

        January 7, 2015

        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/GrandApple

        There has been some increases in warmness and happiness in certain months. For example, April was an extremely happy month and was happier compared to January, February, and March, although the Duolingo has seen happier users in 2013. In May it was a zig-zag. There was a sudden increase in happiness in June. Things started to decline during the Summer when everyone started to realize how much of the same questions were being asked. In September-November, I have no idea what happened, but according to this post and some comments I'm assuming that the pattern was consistent and the warmness went down. In December the warmness went in a straight line and started to go down a bit as we hit the new year (I can point out a few arguments in the posts, but I'd rather not).

        January 6, 2015

        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/GrandApple

        If there's anything to blame for all this, I'd blame it on the mountains and river landscape on the bottom being hidden. If anyone were to see it they'd be happy.

        January 6, 2015

        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/hellerm

        Wait a minute... there is a river? I only saw the mountains! Thanks you for enlightening me! :D

        January 6, 2015

        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/GrandApple

        There are some improvements, though. There has been more admin-user interaction and communication.

        January 6, 2015

        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/IndiePotato

        You sir, deserve a Lingot (or five), for all the hard work you're putting into this community! I can see that you (and many others!) care about this community a lot. I'll aspire to make sure I stick to those tips! Everyone is equal on the internet. New comers and veterans!

        January 6, 2015

        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/GrandApple

        Madame or ma'am because it's a she.

        January 6, 2015

        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AlexisLinguist

        And there goes all the happiness I had from reading these posts. One word: sir. ;) No, really, I don't, I just wanted to make everyone aware of what was going on, because I see a lot everyday. Thanks for the appreciation, it takes all kinds to make Duo go 'round. :)

        January 6, 2015

        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/pilgrim2k

        Good comment! I haven't personally noticed the shortness that much but I agree with you whole heartedly that we should respect everyones posts with kindness and helpfulness. we are all trying to learn and if someone feels that they can be curt to someone, then maybe they aren't here to learn. I've been on all different kinds of website blogs and have seen people cutting others down for their posts and the once great sites will go to crap in a short time. I personally love this site and have learned a lot and continue to do so daily. I comment from time to time with questions and offer my thoughts to help were I can and I will continue to do so. Thank you Duo-lingo staff.

        January 7, 2015

        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ibekee

        I haven't noticed much negativity - I think I'm way too distracted by all the cool stuff I'm learning on Duolingo. Folks like you have helped to make this site so popular and I'm certain that the good will continue to outweigh the bad. OK, I'm going to work on my tree now.

        January 7, 2015

        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Athletesrun

        I just took a screenshot of this post. I'll be posting that screenshot in a couple of months so we don't forget about this :)

        January 7, 2015

        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MsLagerkvist2

        I started Duolingo at the very beginning, soon after it became public, in the summer of 2012. I wanted to see if it could help me learn Spanish. (I was MsLagerkvist in Spanish.) There have been many changes since then, some of them outstanding. In the beginning, I don't remember that we refreshed skills or kept trees golden. There was no sentence discussion. Both of these improvements were crucial.

        I loved trying Translation (not Immersion then) but I won't go near it now. I loved using it to try to integrate my new Spanish skill in my klutzy fashion, but it seems to have become quite competitive and serious. Once I added German to my repertoire, I remember particularly how helpful Christian's comments were when sentence discussion was added: he was succinct, matter-of-fact and quite helpful. I remember fondly that after I translated one of my first German sentences, someone wrote to me on my stream, "Well done you!" I didn't even know this person! I felt too timid to respond in thanks. Even more recently, someone wrote last year to congratulate me on a hundred-day streak.

        I finished a German tree January 4th, 2015. I immediately started to review French. I say this only to express my respect for Duolingo. Sometimes when Duo has changed things a lot, I've taken a break and studied elsewhere. I think Duolingo is an outstanding, outstanding tool, but everyone has to tailor it to his or her own needs.

        I have expressed in another thread my objections to down-voting in discussion because of the trend I have observed over a period of years. My comment on that thread was based on feeling protective of someone who was feeling very discouraged and who received ten down votes on her post (maybe more, since some comments were supportive, including yours, Alexis.) I decided at that point that it might be a better idea if I didn't participate in general discussion at all, so this post is in violation of that decision. I want anything I say on this site to be supportive of everyone else's efforts to learn, to try new things, to experience the change of consciousness that learning a language involves, but I think I really don't feel a part of it all, as if I have never learned the ropes. I certainly don't want to add to the work of a volunteer moderator.

        You are a thoughtful moderator, Alexis. You make an important contribution here.

        January 7, 2015

        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Brit_In_France

        At times I have found the Duolingo forum's offputting. Constructive criticism is often downvoted and there appears to be an attempt to maintain the status quo. The forum's are not representative of language learners as a whole and there appears to be an attempt to keep it like that.

        The article where "Anglish" - taking all the French words out of English, was wildly popular just about sums up the problem that Duolingo has.

        Regards

        January 8, 2015

        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Jascuty

        I think we (or at least the moderators) should have the ability to see who has down voted a comment or topic. That way, if we/they see the same names coming up over and over again on comments that shouldn't have been down voted, they can take the right action on the member.

        January 6, 2015

        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AlexisLinguist

        Downvotes should not be visible, in my opinion. That could cause many firestorms, as you know who continues to downvote you. That leads to harassment, and besides the user who wrongfully downvoted (plenty of times), the "victim" is also banned from the site, because they attacked the attacker. So, that wouldn't be the best way to go about it. I'm sure the team could figure it out, though.

        January 6, 2015

        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Grumpycat1

        so true....people should be - even here - responsible for what they do and say...some users, especially younger, just cannot recognize trolls and can get hurt by them

        i have just two problems here (joined Aug. 2013):

        first, rudeness towards the young and/or weak english-ed....which is the worst.possible.thing! Rarity pulling her mane

        second, i am afraid we have growing botox effect here....some people somehow replaced religion with Duolingo (and the streak has its own cult, too)......which can be bad for further development, which is still great, but without decent and constructive feedback it will slow down soon.....this is just no kindergarten, learning a language is not watching Teletubbies

        January 6, 2015

        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/yakireev

        I see what you did there. /)

        January 7, 2015

        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JungeJunge

        Thanks for your awesome work. And could you tell me how many German words in this online course?

        January 7, 2015

        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/supainanoko

        Courses tend to have approximately 2000 words. For German specifically, I have seen estimates vary between 1750 and 2300. I am halfway between the third and fourth checkpoints and have 1037 words so I expect the real amount is closer to 1750.

        January 7, 2015

        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/anne_omoly

        I've got 1,722 words in my complete tree.

        January 8, 2015

        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JungeJunge

        Thank bro,It's enough for taking a journey in Deutschland. And if I want to reading newspaper, it seems need to remember much word after the online course. haha

        January 7, 2015

        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ksoo

        We should require (non-admin) downvoters to state their disagreements, which would be posted as a reply to the post/comment being DVed (perhaps with a special "reasons for downvoting" red border on the left or something), as part of the downvoting process. Not willing to write out why you disagreed? Can't downvote.

        January 7, 2015

        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DoppioMAB

        A "down vote" should only be used if a comment is racist, or inflammatory, or full of swearing.

        You're not encouraging anyone to ask questions if they get a down vote because you think the question is too easy or obvious.

        Meanwhile, it costs you nothing (except some wear and tear on your clicking finger) to "up vote" any comment that you agree with or like. So why not up vote everything that you read and like?

        We all just need to get along!

        (I find the people in the Italian section to be reasonably friendly, myself! Ciao!)

        January 7, 2015

        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jeanprendiville

        I am a but surprised, who are all these dreadful people, these trolls? Maybe I have been lucky but I haven't encountered any, however I have received lots of wonderful help and had my day brightened by some amazing contributions. The happenings of this day reminds us once again that tolerance should be the foundation stone of our community, without tolerance the knowledge of languages is an empty vessel.

        January 7, 2015

        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sp3p2parkerc

        WOW!!! Even some of the comments in here are getting pretty heated! This is a helpful tool to let you guys get a reality check if you are treating others with disrespect. treat others like you would like to be treated if in their predicament... dont just ignore them or post harsh comments... these discussions are for Helping others, not the opposite! it doesnt matter how big your daily streak score is or how many languages you are learning- everyone needs to treat others with respect...

        January 7, 2015

        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jaimiesomers

        I've been on Duolingo for just 24 days (plus about a week in September), and I did not even realize that there was any kind of real community here. I've done the Italian tree from English, then the reverse tree (learned about from a discussion thread), then a bit more Italian from French and from Spanish (for practice), a teensy bit of Danish and a teensy bit of Swedish and a teensy bit of German. My phone refuses to understand a word I pronounce in Italian (spiteful Android that it is), but nonetheless, I think the process is great, wait eagerly for new languages to be added, and recommend the site all around with tremendous enthusiasm.

        I've posted lots of notes, some in a snit (the things the program marks wrong that are not, the blasted autocorrect that miscorrects my blasted typos), some in curiosity, some to be helpful . . and I've gotten lots of feedback . . . but who knew that there was an actual sort of group that actually coalesced? I've thought it random language learners with real interest and good intent, plus Duolingo "owners" of some sort (moderators, I guess) who jump in now and again and say "we." I've not always been pleased with the responses I've gotten, but I am always pleased to get responses, and I have always been pleased by the people who've taken the time to respond.

        And now I know I'm part of a community. That's nice.

        I missed the trolling abuses that are complained of below, and would perhaps be singing a different tune had I not, but I disapprove strongly of banning posters as any sort of regular process (it feels elitist to me -- and cliquish, like circling the wagons or not letting the fat kids sit at the lunch table). And I think down votes are an abomination; they encourage negativity and discourage independent thought (plus I hit them all the time unintentionally when trying to reply on my iPad, where my bloodless fingertips require me to hit the word "Reply" on the screen multiple times to get through, and I often miss . . . forcing me to up vote things just to counter my inadvertent down votes, when all I mean to do is ask a question). I would ban down votes were I empress, or even merely queen.

        So, that said, I agree that we need place where we can go to figure out how to do things (e.g., raise a suggestion for the model, take a discussion private). It would be super cool if that place included information on why anyone would even want a Lingot. I've bought myself hearts, I've bought myself idioms, I've bought myself progress tests, and even a ridiculous outfit for Duo (he looked depressed), but I am still at a loss to understand. I stare at the Store page the way I stare at the refrigerator when I can't figure out why there's nothing to eat. And so my coffers overflow with lingots. Or seem to. For all I know, I could be lingot-poor. Alas.

        Happy to know you're all here.

        January 8, 2015

        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/turcois

        I remember a thread identical to this being posted several months ago. And everyone upvoted it a ton, and responded with such warmth. I frankly haven't seen it that much lately, but hey, I don't spend every day on the forums like I know alex has done for so long. But anyway, duo is growing, and with size comes trolls and other people like that. :( Oh well

        January 8, 2015

        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Noahtheark

        I've had my account for almost 2 years I think (I'm not really sure). I rarely comment, usually because somebody has said what I would've said already. I haven't been on here much lately. I've had school and it's been stressful. I remember the community being a lot nicer when I used to be on frequently. It has really gotten worse, but it's not in like critical condition or anything. Some people may get tired of seeing the same questions asked multiple times though, in that case the users shouldn't be rude; they should point out where they can find some questions answered. I know we have like a user guidelines or something handy like that on here somewhere. There needs to be nicer comments; don't patronize new users. I haven't looked into the Discussion tab much lately though. I barely have any idea how the community acts now.

        January 8, 2015

        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ruthlilycat

        Hi Alexis, I've been here since the beginning - I'm an early adopter. I don't find it that way. But your experience might be different, it seems like it's pretty much the same to me, same as it ever was. Sorry about your experiences.

        January 8, 2015

        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Nathanielwar

        yea I've not had those problems but sorry you have

        January 9, 2015

        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Musicgrl73

        Great explanation. I can definitely relate. I'm restarting my languages but I feel like there is pressure to become a "top dog" with high levels and long streaks, not that I am saying it's bad if you are, but I feel as if I can't just relax and learn my languages at my own pace.

        April 3, 2015

        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/lingogirl1234

        That is definitely true.

        April 3, 2015

        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jenna_swiss

        Well, the petty changes in Immersion are nothing new, but you're right! Let's support each other and have fun! I've been doing my best to refresh that idea in my mind as I work on the courses I contribute to, as well.

        April 4, 2015

        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/lingogirl1234

        I have not been here that long, but I believe what Alexis says is true and we should be nicer

        April 13, 2015

        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/-Sapphira-

        Thanks so much for posting this Alexis.

        I downloaded the mobile app in October of 2013, and I was attracted by the way it was free, the excitement of the lessons, and how easy it was to learn French. I'd started to forget about learning, and so I stopped for a while. When I picked it back up weeks later, I had discovered the website. It was even more fun for me, mostly because of the welcoming community. One of the first people I met was QQJoy. Since I started, she's been one of the nicest people I met on the site.

        A about half a year later, I'd posted my first discussion, and it started off where most users said it was a great idea. The next day, I'd checked back, some users started posting rude and aggressive comments for no reason, and the post had started to get downvoted. I was distraught when I had to delete it, because I couldn't handle the pressure. Sure, the community had started to get meaner. In the next few days, I retreated to Immersion. But even there, there were harsh comments for translations that were fine in my eyes. I took a break from my laptop, and went back to the mobile version.

        About a year and a half later, things had started to get cleared up. Yes, a few people had started spamming, and some were still mean, but the volume had really been turned down.

        About 2 months ago, I started the online interview show DuoCeleb Interviews, and things started to look up. It's a great way to connect with the community, so I sort of felt like I had made a small difference.

        After posting the third episode, it started off nicely. Only then a user named PiPisSplashtown had said that Joy cheats on Immersion to get tons of XP. He'd posted that comment at least 6 times and it was very disturbing. I was extremely annoyed, so I told him something straight to the point. My same experience from when I had posted my first discussion was repeated. I don't know why anyone would want to lie about something so serious over and over. I made me so angry, but fortunately, my friends helped me calm down and handle the situation without causing more trouble. I am grateful to the community members who are kind, but I don't know about the ones who aren't. I've only got one question:

        WHAT IS THE REASON TO TROLL AND MAKE TROUBLE AND BE MEAN TO PEOPLE WHO AREN'T DOING ANYTHING WRONG?

        July 24, 2015
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