Updated Guidelines

Hello everyone! Duolingo has updated the Website Guidelines.

Here is the updated section below:

<h1>Please don’t use Duolingo to...</h1>

Attack a person or group of people with words and actions

Duolingo is a safe place for learners of all backgrounds. Harassment and hurtful content will not be tolerated. Using symbols, names and text that promote hate—as well as harassing, stalking, and making sexual remarks towards someone—are considered abuse. Rule of thumb: if you are making someone feel attacked or hurt, then you shouldn’t be doing it. We take these reports seriously and will delete your account if such activity is verified by our team.

Thank you for being part of and helping to build and maintain this wonderful community. :)

August 1, 2015


I suppose this update of the guidelines is a response to the discussion raised by the Confederate flag. Unfortunately, this update solves nothing (in my opinion).

The new guidelines say "Using symbols [...] that promote hate [...] are considered abuse". The problem in the mentioned discussion was never whether promotion of hate should be punished. It was about whether a flag can be considered hateful.

As mentioned before, all flags are able to offend someone. There are tons of people who are certainly offended by e.g. a communist flag, a Russian flag, an Israeli flag, a Palestinian flag, a rainbow flag, and so on. Now why do we consider some of them hateful and some of them not?

So what's the consequence of those rules? Banning all flags? Banning those flags who don't fit the opinion of the moderator? Those who are considered bad by most Americans? The last two ones would mean, that Duo makes indeed a political statement. This is meant as a serious question.

Disclaimer: I don't like the philosophy behind the Confederate flag at all. As a German I also know very well, that it is very hard to balance between freedom of speech and banning symbols of hate. We gave rise to the flag considered the most hateful after all (which is banned in Germany, but legal in most other countries, including the US)...

August 1, 2015

I agree. In my opinion this update is not a sufficient response to the problem that prompted it. I very much appreciate that the use of flags on this website causes problems but the answer which I and others have suggested before is to ban all flags. And this would include duolingo itself stopping using flags as symbols for languages, which is already problematic and is only going to become more so as more languages are added (e.g. other Indian languages besides Hindi, etc, etc).

Having flags on this site only leads to people wanting to make political and nationalist statements, which are not appropriate here at all.

I personally very much dislike seeing the French and US flags always posted after my username, even though I love the two languages that these flags are (stupidly) used to represent. I don't want to “fly the flag” for any nation just because I'm learning a language used by that nation.

August 2, 2015

¡Thanks to you :)! - ¡Gracias a ti :)! Regards - Saludos, Mr.Multilingual. My dear friend :).

August 1, 2015

A lingot for sharing. This is great news! Thanks Duo Staff!

August 1, 2015

Thank you so much for this update - Asexual_Polyglot

August 1, 2015

Thank you! Maybe this should be a sticky note so that newcomers could see it and old users would not forget about it? :)

August 2, 2015

Thank you for this and for all your hard work Usagi.

August 2, 2015


August 2, 2015

This is really clear and specific so that's great!

August 2, 2015

I came in here just to thank you for your moderator work. You are the moderator I have seen active lately. And, I found this lovely advice which expresses what I was thinking when I read a questioning discussion post early. What a great place! And, what if we all chose to be nice and friendly even if we run across someone who has lost touch with that concept. Thanks for your work and thanks for these thoughts. Delita

August 3, 2015

Thank you, and yes! I think kindness goes a long way. :)

August 3, 2015

I think the point being missed here is that the use of flags of existing countries cannot be banned even if their display upsets citizens of a country at dispute with it. However flags that are not the currant flag of a country but present a political or philosophical viewpoint I think are inappropriate here. Bye the way. What on earth is a "racial realist" ?

August 2, 2015
  • 1972

I don't think it's really the flags that are a problem, but rather certain people using them to be confrontational or to be deliberately offensive. Banning all flags because of the behavior of a couple of individuals would be throwing the baby out with the bath water.

As for the by the way: "Racial realist", I'm guessing, is a term mainly used by "racist buts" ("I'm not racist, but....") to imply that there are larger differences between races (however you define them) than within them, or that these differences are somehow relevant.

August 2, 2015

However flags that are not the currant flag of a country but present a political or philosophical viewpoint I think are inappropriate here.

Duolingo's use of the Catalan flag is inconsistent with this rule you are trying to lay down.

[Please note: I'm not attacking the Catalan course here; I'm very happy that it is being developed]

The problem for duolingo is that once they ban some flags from the site but not others there is actually no consistent rule they can find to back-up the actions they have taken. That is why they've used this vague language of “symbols ... that promote hate” which is, of course, very subjective.

I certainly don't want to see hate promoted here but I think duolingo is ignoring the root of the problem, which they have inadvertently helped create. The best, and I think only real solution (as I've suggested elsewhere in this thread), is to ban all flags from the site, including duolingo's own use of them. Flags, by their nature, are political.

August 2, 2015

I am with you. ANY flag can produce a political reaction. Many Latin American flags were designed as a symbol against the Spanish colonialism and now they are official and regular flags as any other. Some people may feel angry to have a flag of the USA in their profile. Or imagine that you want to learn a language spoken in a country who fought against your country in the past... It is very difficult to say that one flag promotes hate, because for some other people that very same flag is a symbol of freedom or whatever.

I have recommended to use the ISO codes to represent languages, but I understand that it is not as colorful as a flag.

August 2, 2015

I also agree that the ISO 639 codes are the best solution, as they map one-to-one with languages, which is what we're meant to be all about here.

They could perhaps be made colourful by assigning different colours to the different language families, which would then have a bonus effect of letting people tell at a glance whether someone is focused on say, learning romance family languages, or is covering a wide range of languages, etc.

Here's an example ISO 639 code graphic for French:

(Sourced from Wikimedia Commons)

August 2, 2015

Mi ankaux sxatas gxin

I like it also

August 3, 2015

I like it!!!

August 2, 2015

What on earth is a "racial realist" ?

It's the in vogue way to refer to scientific racism. The type of person who says things like "It's not racist if it's true!"

August 9, 2015

I think it is really more important to improve the practice engine, because some words repeat over and over again and some never show up in the exercises, than deal with almost idiotic guidelines. This is a huge problem for people who really want to learn. Creepy people will go pass them anyway and do their creepy ❤❤❤❤.

August 3, 2015

It was not this or that. Different areas of Duolingo are allocated tech time. So, the time spent updating the guidelines wouldn't have otherwise been spent on the practice engine. Also, please, no profanity. Thank you :)

August 3, 2015

Please excuse my inappropriate tone, but I would really appreciate it if you try to improve on that matter because it has been the sole irritating thing ever since I started using Duolingo and there is no improvement whatsoever, I am sure the majority of Duolingo users would find it very useful too, thanks :)

August 4, 2015
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