Buying Duolingo T-Shirts
I'm sure many users on Duolingo would love to buy a Duolingo t-shirt. However, Duolingo currently does not have a way to do that.
My suggestion: set up a store. Sell Duo mugs and Duo t-shirts. Khan Academy does that, and people buy them. It would work for Duolingo, too.
One benefit of doing this would be the advertising. Usually when a company advertises, it pays money. But in this case, the advertisers would pay the money. Not only that, but the advertising would be more potent than most forms, because of peer pressure. If I saw my friend wearing a cool Duolingo shirt he bought using virtual money, I would be VERY motivated to join Duolingo.
There's flexibility. Duolingo could put anything on those shirts; they could describe their method, or describe how awesome it is, or whatever. Basically, you want the viewer to be fascinated. Maybe put the sentence "Hola! I'm a proud user of Duolingo. Studies have shown that Duolingo is more effective than Rosetta Stone." or whatever. I don't know what kinds of things everybody else wants, but I personally think that particular phrase would be great.
But I also have another suggestion: allow users to buy t-shirts EITHER using lingots OR using real money.
Yeah, I know that sounds crazy at first. There are many downsides to doing that. A t-shirt costs money to buy and ship, and lingots are not the same thing as money. Furthermore, users could cheat to get lingots, and receive t-shirts that way.
But the cheating problem could easily be fixed, and if Duolingo charged, say, 500 lingots per shirt, so few users would actually get a shirt that it would hardly make a difference. Plus, they could only buy t-shirts using lingots; the rest of the products would cost real money. The purchases of the other products would more than make up for the rare lingot-paid shirts.
Plus, there would be greater motivation to get lingots, so users would work harder and learn more. Users would also translate more articles, so Duolingo would get more money. That's already one of the ways Duolingo currently makes money; by translating articles, as they explained here: http://www.duolingo.com/info. Users would translate articles in order to level up - when a user levels up, he gets as many lingots as the level he's leveling up to. Duolingo could also encourage translating by offering a lingot for every 20 sentences translated.
Even if we couldn't pay using lingots, any kind of Duolingo store would be a great addition. Think about it!
There are some interesting ideas here, especially the idea of having a store where most things cost 'real' money and just one item can be purchased for lingots.
But if implemented, I would make t-shirts only available for real money and instead offer a stuffed-toy duolingo owl for exclusive purchase in lingots.
Soft toys are very cheap to manufacture (as opposed to decent-quality cotton t-shirts). So essentially giving away the toys would not be much of a money loser for duolingo and, if people buy other stuff at the store at the same time for 'real' cash, probably a sales multiplier for the store.
I think a lot of people would feel proud to have a duolingo owl sitting on their desk that can only be purchased in lingots and thus, would be a symbol of achievement in language learning through duolingo. The price should be chosen to be roughly the number of lingots that the average learner would earn by staying with the course through to completion of one language tree.
Would you be able to buy them using lingots or will you have to pay using U.S. dollars?