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Timetable for correcting the word strength / degradation issue

I know that the issue with word strength and decay rate is a topic that comes up rather frequently, and that at least one dev has commented that it's a known issue being worked on. I'm curious to know if there is any approximate timetable for resolving the issue. Since completing my tree, every day I have between 10 and 30 words decay from full strength. Without exception,every degraded word for the last several days has been one that has been practiced within the previous two to three days (as indicated by the "last seen" date on the vocabulary list). This is growing increasingly frustrating since it completely interferes with my desire to practice the parts of my Spanish tree in which I actually need to improve my ability. I've seen the issue described as a "practiced too much" bug, which I will only compound now that practicing is all I have left to do in my Spanish tree.

To be clear, this isn't meant to be a harsh criticism - I well understand the constraints of a small dev team, and sympathize with being pulled in dozens of different directions. I'd just like to know - in ballpark terms - how soon we might see some resolution to the issue.

September 24, 2013



I managed to squeeze in a few hours to fix the "Remove from practice" button on vocab word pages. It works properly now, plus there is an "undo" button to add words back into you practice pool again. You don't have to fear losing words from practice forever anymore!

Next on the agenda are the steep "2-month decay" problem (mentioned by pinkodoug in a different discussion), and a "practice more" button for words (like what adoelias suggests below). I hope to do these in the next week or two, but there is no specific timeline (since I'm working primarily on a couple of other big projects).

If you have other vocab-related requests, mention them below and I'll see what I can do! :)


Thanks once again for the great information and for your continuing efforts to resolve these issues, Tatou. I know that with a small team and other, more pressing deliverables, issues like these get pushed aside quite often. It's really great that you're able to carve out some time here & there to try to resolve them. The two issues that are at the top of my list are the 2-month issue that we've discussed and the one that you characterize in another topic as being (you suspect) caused by practicing too much and throwing the selection algorithm off. The latter of which gives me heartburn daily now that the "practice weakest words" has been repeatedly presenting me with the same words for a while now. Having words that I've encountered dozens of times still show up daily or every other day because they're decaying too rapidly really gets in the way of reviewing all of the content in Spanish tree. I really look forward to seeing your post advising us that these bugs have been squashed!


Well, for now you have the perfect solution, start removing these words from practice. It can be "painful" to remove them one by one. But if you have enough patience to practice so much, then hopefully you'll have enough patience to remove them.

That said, can we have something that can facilitate bulk removal of specific vocabulary words? Something like ticking the words we know in the vocabulary list and clicking a button. As long as the algorithm puts it back into the pool if we miss it maybe 2 or 3 times, there shouldn't be a long term problem with doing something like this.

Or alternatively, choose specific words for practice.


Yes, I'm well aware of my options. Since we're discussing issues that are in need of correction, however, I mentioned these two. Removing words from practice is a workaround that's now an option thanks to Tatou's changes described in his post, but that's bit of a bandaid and not a solution (I'm sure that Tatou would agree).


Noted. But I guess we can't blame the algorithm that much because our brains are very complicated computers. It is very hard to tell what makes an event/word memorable for years and what does not. There are words you think you know well, but if I ask you a week or the following day, you may have forgotten it.

What I meant is that you have to help the algorithm because no matter how good an algorithm is, unless it can read your mind it'll never be able to tell how well you know words. It can only have a good estimate.

Since this seems to be a big problem for you, and I know you'll probably dislike the idea, but why don't you either reset the language, and take a placement test or alternatively create another account and take the test to see how well you've mastered the language.


You're reading way too much into this. It's not a "big problem" for me, but more of an annoyance. I'm quite willing to work around the issues until they're fixed properly. Software development and maintenance requires feedback from users regarding bugs and how well things work, which is what I've tried to do here. None of this is an attack on DL - software issues are inevitable. I'm merely offering constructive feedback to the devs (something that I went out of my way to make clear in the original post). There's no need for anyone to come to their defense.

All of that aside, we're talking about known bugs within Duolingo, as acknowleged by Tatou. It's not an issue with the software not being omniscient. The same words that are practiced without error degrade in the span of a day or two over and over again. This is a problem that happens to a subset of words and to a subset of users, not all. Tatou has stated elsewhere that he has a pretty good idea of what causes this, and has merely lacked the time to tackle it due to other priorities competing for his time. Believe me, I and other users, have more than done our part to demonstrate our mastery of these vocabulary words - it's for naught, however due to a bug.


I see your point. It seems you misunderstood, I was not defending Duolingo or the algorithm. You are right in indicating that there is a bug somewhere. I was merely suggesting a different way of practicing while waiting for the problem to be resolved.


Ohhhh, a practise-more button! I like that very much! :) I was hoping to see something like this for a while now.

I still think it would be great if you could throw together your own practise sessions. Every word could have a little tick box, I can tick how many I want and then press a button "Practise ticked words".
But a practise-more button is definitely already a step in a very good direction! Thank you for taking the time!


I think it would be better if you (Mr/Ms Tatou) would start a thread on that, this thread was for a specific problem.

Anyway, in terms of improving the vocabulary. Here are some issues I've noticed :

  1. Search for a word in our "native" language
  2. Words that have the same meaning aren't grouped, its hard to associate them
  3. I'm unsure if "Practice lesson" = "Practice Weakest Words"???
  4. If answer to no.3 is no, can we have have a practice weakest words in the main page?
  5. Can we have "Practice all words" within a skill??
  6. A scheduled word practice every day.
  7. Notify users they have xxx very weak words(1 gold Bar) that need practice

I have many words that have gone to 1 gold bar, I think my whole vocabulary could go that way. It is mainly because I forget to practice, and advance to the next lesson; so no.6 would help with that.


You're right, there should probably be have a separate vocab wishlist discussion... although the major ones keep popping up in their own threads. :) Thanks for the cool ideas in the meantime! Here are answers to questions for which I have answers at the moment:

n3. "Lesson practice" ("Strengthen Skills" in the apps) == "Practice weakest words"

n5. If you go to a Skill page, there is a "Practice skill" button ("Strengthen" in the apps) that prioritizes words in that skill by strength.

We plan to revamp the vocab section at some point, and better integrate it into the apps.


Excellent, I think the most requested feature of all time is probably practicing or showing articles in the vocabulary section. E.g. (La/Le, un, une; Ein, eine, Die, das, der, den; o,a,os,as). In German especially its horrible with 3 genders.

That and a way to export the vocabulary. Shouldn't be that hard though ("select words, from languages where Id=username"). :P


What are these vocab word pages that you're referring to? Sorry if that's a dumb question but I've not been able to track down a good guide for tips & tricks to using Duolingo to it's fullest. Still discovering something new every time I log in I think... But a summary of vocabulary learned would be most advantageous. I also like this concept of marking words for more practice versus others.


The vocabulary pages that we were talking about in this thread were removed from the site in January of this year. Duolingo is currently testing a new implementation that includes nearly all of the functionality of the vocabulary, but it's only available for some users. Those that are in the test group have a "words" link at the top of their page. If the devs are satisfied with the results of their testing, it will be made available to all users, but when that might happen is unknown.

Here are some screenshots of the current incarnation being tested:

The main vocabulary page:

Mousing over a word reveals the same hints that are available in exercises and lessons:

Clicking on a word reveals some details about it:

Clicking the "More details" button reveals usage examples:

...and conjugations if it's a verb:

Some users are also testing flashcards as part of the new words feature: Imgur



Oh cool! Thanks! I see, that is a bit unfortunate but hopefully it goes well. Something like that would be most advantageous to long term study of a language and keeping on top of vocabulary. Especially if it ends up integrated in the immersion exercises that one participates in!


Nicely done, that's one less bug to worry about. I recall you mentioned you'd sort this issue during the HackaThon. Since the month is almost finished, it seems that it has been put off indefinitely. Anyway, happy coding.


Agreed...word strenght is pretty weird. Every day there are several words I should work on but I really dont understand why. On the other hand, there are some words which are really hard for me to remember and I would like to work on them much harder. Could you guys get some inspiration from Memrise? It would be great if some "hard to remember" words could be memorised in the same or similar way like on their website. We dont need plenty of fancy graphs but some visualizaton or statistic about word strenght/last used/missed % - could be nice.


Also, if a word turns up for review and I get it wrong, it seems to be marked as "full-strength".


Yes, this happens because you saw it and it's supposedly fresh in your mind, so you should wait to review it again. However, it will "decay" faster if you get it wrong. I agree this can be improved, though.


I'd like to study swedish on duolingo!

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