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Can we have some consistent moderation... please? And can we be told exactly what we did wrong when our posts are deleted?

I would appreciate both of those things very much.

October 15, 2013



Well, I'm a moderator and I delete quite a lot of posts.

Here is what I usually delete in general discussions:

  • Offensive comments.

  • Nonsense comments like "lkjsd;flkjaslfjsjsdlkf".

  • Irrelevant comments like "Hello" or "I like pie" or whatever in useful discussions. Such posts clutter the discussion and make it more difficult to read.

Otherwise, I leave general discussions as they are. There is no need to clear threads with announcements or suggestions. Let everyone feel comfortable and have their say if they don't spam or offend anyone.

Apart from that, in discussions of tasks I usually delete:

  • Some comments about the meaning of the sentence rather than about its language aspects. I leave really funny jokes (they usually collect tons of upvotes), but otherwise, trying to be witty about the sentence does not help others to learn and clutters the discussion. There are 50+ comments for some sentences in basic sections, and very few of them are really helpful.

  • Duplicating comments like "xxx should be accepted!" or "it is not xxx, it's yyy". I leave one instance of that in a thread and delete the others.

  • If I know that a certain translation is now accepted, I delete old comments with questions why it was not accepted before. Apparently this translation has been added and complaints about it are no longer relevant. If those comments are relatively new, I rather reply with "It is accepted now".

  • Comments like "I agree" or "me too" in discussions of sentences. Again, these discussions are meant to be read while learning and they are most helpful when they consist of language questions and answers for them. Sometimes it is fine to post "me too" just to "up" the thread or attract attention of your friends, but after that, these comments don't add anything to the discussion.

  • Complaints like "this is so hard", "this sucks" or "I typed xxx and was wrong" (the latter does not apply to situations when the user asks why this or that was considered wrong).

  • Comments about the pronunciation/voice like "I heard xxx" or "The sound is not clear". Sentence discussions are not intended for reports. Of course, I leave questions about pronunciation like "Is b really pronounced like v in Spanish?"

  • Obviously incorrect answers that may confuse other learners. Usually such answers are already downvoted.

Personally, I don't think users should be notified about every deleted comment. This may lead to unnecessary conflicts and of course a lot of extra work for moderators. I often spend much more time on doing a lesson because I look through every discussion and clean it up if necessary; imagine how slowly I would advance if I had to comment on every deleted post. Situations when users really care about their deleted comments (like Zach1337 in this very case) are rather rare, and they are usually brought up to the forum and resolved or explained by the mods or staff.

Now, if we talk about consistency of moderation, I'm all in favor of it, but we the mods are only human and can make mistakes, too. What one sees as normal, the other may see as offensive. Unfortunately, we can't completely avoid all the possible disagreements. Here, I can only make this suggestion to other moderators: when in doubt, don't delete the comment :-)

On the comment in question: Personally, I would hesitate to delete it, but I'm pretty sure it would have been downvoted by others anyway. Come on, the original post was written to share happiness with others, not to advocate these or those views. If you don't feel like congratulating Peter, just go by and don't spoil his joy.


I'm... much more tolerant than you are :)

Too much, admittedly; I think I'll follow your example and clean up old threads as soon as I have time.


I look at sentence discussions as a learner. When I'm going through a lesson, I appreciate useful answers about the language and I'm also willing to help others with their questions whenever I can. Sometimes it is also great to laugh at a really good joke. Everything else is just an unnecessary waste of time. I believe most learners feel the same. If not, just let me know which types of comments you would like to have kept :-)


I'm pretty much 100% on track with you.


"I typed xxx and was wrong" (the latter does not apply to situations when the user asks why this or that was considered wrong). I sometimes do this when there is confusion about which translations are or are not accepted. And I appreciate it when other people do it too, because there is sometimes no other way to see alternate translations.


This depends on the situation, I don't always delete such comments. However, I do delete those where the user was obviously wrong (like, translated "bebé" as "bebe" - "drinks", not "baby"). Also, my actions greatly depend on the answers to the comment: if there are useful answers, I don't delete.


Hi everyone! I just want to clear some things up here, so that everyone understands where we are coming from. We have limited resources and can't email everyone a reason for why a comment was deleted. We have an incredible group of moderators willingly offering their time. They are members we communicate with regularly and people who spend a lot of time making sure this community continues to be one of acceptance and language learning. That comment was removed by our staff. We have a very active community, and we want to make sure that the comments and the threads that are in the forum focus on language learning and language success stories. There are many other platforms to engage in other topics. We have guidelines that outline what this community is all about. Check them out here: http://www.duolingo.com/guidelines. The comment that was removed wasn't relevant to the thread or language learning. We love different opinions- language learning discussions involve a lot of perspectives. We encourage that. We are very transparent about what we expect to see in the forums. Let me know your questions! Happy to answer them.


"We are very transparent about what we expect to see in the forums."

It doesn't seem so. The guidelines are apparently very general in order to ease the work of moderation, but not to ensure transparency for your users. How can one tell why was their comment deleted, if they don't know the reason? The person will just make the same mistake another time, and another.

Simple note to user will do, I believe: "Your comment ID = xxxxx with this and this content was deleted because of this reason: usage of offensive language".

TLDR; My issue is primarily not with the guidelines, but how liberally are moderators able to interpret them without some sort of accountability towards users.


While I agree with the sentiments of the moderators and others on this thread (that moderators have little time to write notifications when a post gets deleted), in my humble opinion, it would be great if the Duolingo introduces a set of moderator tools (much like what's there on platforms like Stack Exchange) so that when a moderator goes to delete a post, he also selects a reason for deleting and then an automatic email is written mentioning the reason for deletion. This might help make the process more transparent.


That's a great idea. It could (in theory) also keep track of how many times someone has been sent the email. That way when I report someone to Duo for continuous inane jibber-jabber, despite my requests made to that person to stop the posts and to follow the guidelines, there will be numbers showing the amount of times their posts have been deleted and why.


Agree. That's a great idea. (Although I doubt the Stackoverflow esthetics would be the right choice for the duolingo community :) )


I was referring to Stack Exchange sites only to get the idea across. I certainly agree that Duolingo is a much friendlier community with different intended purposes and styles. :-)


By "selects a reason", I have presumed the existence of a drop-down list which has a list of reasons. Such a reasonable list could evolve from the discussion on this thread and of course, there could be a text box for specific reasons a moderator might have.

  • 3020

I would pay twice my weight in Lingots to never again see a complaint on Duolingo about gender roles or "patriarchy" or whether or not such and such sentences are sexist. Good Lord.


Hey Zach1337! Moderation is strongly based on our Community Guidelines that you can find here: http://www.duolingo.com/guidelines We do not arbitrarily delete discussions. It is also very rare that we need to do that. Let me know what you're referring to, and I can take a closer look.


Hmm, I think the problem is not that you disagreed with the person that posted in that thread but rather the "tone" of your expression. I often disagree with many individuals, including moderators, yet as far as I know my posts aren't deleted.

Besides, this is a simple matter of being in someone elses house (DuoLingo), and when in China(Duolingo) do what the Chinese (Duolinguers and its Overlords) do and say.

Update: The OP could have simply written that remark directly to the author of the thread in his/her stream. Also perhaps a good tool would be something that automatically sends a notice to the person's stream when a post is deleted, and a link to the forum guidelines.


Staff members and Moderators (don't forget staff members moderate too), please try to make it a habit to tell people about the comments you are deleting. People need to be notified of what is acceptable behaviour while at the same time receiving the opportunity to defend themselves. Referring to the guidelines is not always enough, try to make clear what it is about. One thing we may also need to think about is whether a comment can be altered to fit better with the guidelines before choosing to delete it.

I noticed the number of votes for this topic go down. Maybe some people disagreed with Zach1337's earlier comment, but that shouldn't be a reason to give a negative vote to a request for more openness. True, Zach1337 quickly started to bring that comment into this discussion, but remember to judge each discussion and comment on its own to make sure you don't shun things that you can actually agree with.

That said, could the people within this discussion please stop arguing about Zach1337's comment? (including Zach1337) The actual reason for deleting it can only be disclosed by the person responsible for making that choice. This topic is becoming too heated in my opinion, which is all the more reason to offer Zach1337 a solid explanation to make sure that an otherwise happy user isn't suddenly alienated from the website. Thank you.


You seem to be grossly underestimating the amount of rubbish that is posted in the fora... :) I already spend far too much time with cleaning up. Believe me: nobody has the time to write notifications for each deleted comment.


I'm sorry wataya, you are absolutely right. I'm actually really upset about this whole discussion. Partly with the fact that Zach1337's comment was deleted, but even more with the whole talk about "moderators" and "moderating" that followed. I would expect none of the moderators I know to have deleted that comment. Like olimo said, it would probably have been buried because people didn't agree with it. However, saying that no moderator would have deleted it would be a way of pointing at the staff. I considered putting "(and Moderators)" in my comment, but I decided to go for the slightly more ambiguous "(don't forget staff members moderate too)" to try to steer the discussion away from just moderators. A very weak attempt, one inspired by confusion, but I still could have done better.

No, I don't actually want people to do more work and to write a report on every piece of spam they delete. That was my attempt to make the person responsible realise that some comments may cause trouble when not handled properly. Just because of deleting that one opinion, the whole moderating system was exposed to scrutiny and completely innocent moderators suddenly had to start defending themselves and the way they operated.

It's good Kristine revealed that the comment was deleted by the staff as I am now able to speak freely. This discussion has nothing to do with moderators or setting new moderating rules. Why would you suddenly need to start stressing the rules to people who were selected because of the contributions they were providing to the community on their own? I may seem to be underestimating the amount of rubbish that is posted, but I can assure you that my awareness of the issue has somewhat increased since six months ago, when moderators were introduced. My apologies to anyone I insulted by saying that staff members and moderators should start explaining everything, it isn't something I really deem necessary. You are welcome to continue moderating like you did before and I know you will all do great :)

@ Zach1337 could you please stop being so strict towards moderators? The lack of information about your deleted comment is no reason to declare all moderators suspect. The deletion of your comment could have been handled more carefully, but that is something you would need to discuss with the staff, not with moderators. Whether staff members are open enough to criticism would make an interesting discussion. They might actually sympathise with the things you're saying, but they still have other responsibilities towards the website and users. I'm sure the person who deleted your comment did so with the best of intentions and you shouldn't worry that this means you can never say something critical again. Feel free to open another discussion when something is bothering you. I am looking forward to seeing all the critical contributions that you may offer us in the future.


@Lenkvist: All is fine. No need to apologize :) I neither feel offended nor attacked. I wouldn't have deleted the particular post in question either. But I do understand the rationale behind doing so. It most probably would have received tons of downvotes anyway and thereby disappeared into oblivion. As I consider this whole discussion unproductive, I'll unfollow it now.


I've had comments deleted that weren't offensive or filler. Once, I said, "I did not mean that in a sexual context," which was a valid reply. Another time, I made a joke that was actually really funny and not offensive, but it was deleted. However, I see many other jokes. :(

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