There should be some way to filter or moderate spam. It's crazy how much there is now that this site is more popular...to be expected I guess. Many good topics and conversations get lost quickly. I used to love the discussion section and now I find that I have to search just to find a decent discussion. I'm sure the Duo team is doing all they can, so sorry I just had to vent.
I think it might help if there were a separate section for social posting, with subscription optional. I don't really mind people using the site as a social networking site. I just don't like when it buries everything else. Of course there's also a lot of spam which can't even be described as social.
As far as I can tell, the spam appears to come mostly from bored kids. Some might not know any better, but others are just being obnoxious. Maybe a sticky note with Guidelines for Teachers might be helpful? Or, Duolingo could hide any discussion topics after they get a certain number of downvotes? The ability to hide the spam would be useful too. I realize that the effort involved to implement anything is not insignificant.
Yes, yesterday I read some shocking messages a guy wrote on the discussions and on another guy's stream to that user, which was very personally shocking and scary to the person who received the message.
Yesterday someone else had already reported it to firstname.lastname@example.org and to a moderator.
I thought maybe he was just being a jerk or maybe he seriously meant this stuff. In any case I think Duolingo administration should report him to the police because he wrote some serious threats to another user (very serious threats) and made terrorist threats.
Anyway, today I went back on Livemocha for awhile. They have lots more language lessons now. They have Esperanto, Catalan, and all those languages that people here want. I spent all my points, buying more language lessons till I ran out of points. Then I earned some more points, by helping people with English. A guy wrote, "Ciao, Come stai?" to me. I didn't know what to write back. I've only recently learned "Come stai" on Duolingo, but not what to write back. After that he wrote "tutto" something. I didn't know what it meant. I wrote to him in English, but he probably didn't understand.
I looked on Livemocha again today and the same guy wrote, "Tutto ok?" and "come ti chiami?" I think it means "What's your name? and "How are you?" but I don't know what to reply in Italian. I've only recently learned "Come stai?" on Duolingo.
I'm starting back on Livemocha again. Yesterday I helped a guy with some English and today he wrote, saying he wants to learn English. I told him about Duolingo. He said he didn't know about Duolingo. I don't know what his language is. He said he didn't speak much English.
I listened to a French demo on Livemocha just now about "New Neighbor". It was real French voices.
Anyway, on my Livemocha profile, I had written that I wanted to learn Italian and that my level was complete beginner. That was 2 years ago. Yesterday I changed it to say I know a few words and phrases, (thanks to Duolingo).
The problem is not the number of users per se, but the "wrong sort" of users. The spam problem has mushroomed only since the site started attracting large numbers of US school kids.
Since DL seems to be actively attracting large numbers of US school kids, the forums catering for English language users will eventually become unusable because of the spam.