Duolingo quietly got rid of community discussions on individual exercises


A green owl holding a knife while gesturing to be quiet by holding a finger to his mouth. Image generated with the assistance of Dall-E3. 

In a Reddit announcement posted about 3 months ago, Duolingo announced that they are dropping the community discussions on individual exercises. I admit that this was only brought to my attention recently and not while using the app but in a totally random algorithmically recommended video by Evan Edinger I stumbled upon while I was browsing through YouTube.

I have been an obsessive Duolingo learner for about 4 and a half years now and am currently proud of my 1,470-day streak. I am a big fan of gamifying any learning experience and I think this method of having leaderboards, experience points, gem rewards that can be exchanged for cosmetic improvements, and login streaks are just brilliant. 

I have used the community discussion feature a few times. I have to admit however that I could think of fewer than 10 occasions that I have visited and contributed to the discussions on a particular exercise, I think that they were indispensable when I was starting out, and had to get more insights on where I got it wrong. I thought that the community discussions were easily accessible on the exercise page and were a great feature, especially for those moments where you can swear that you have answered the exercise precisely but the program still claims that your answer will be accepted but you have committed a typographical error (that annoys me so much).

Language is a complex subject matter and subtle nuances can be learned not only with the help of native speakers that you can consult directly but also with other like-minded individuals undergoing the same learning journey. Why we use a particular word in a certain context and why not another can sometimes be frustrating if you cannot wrap your head around it. What's even more frustrating is that more often than not the proper sentence construction is not necessarily technically any better grammatically speaking than what you have provided but it just would come out as odd sounding to a native speaker. This is where constant practice is best, especially for colloquial conversations (which may also vary depending on the geographical location). I understand that this is an inherent limitation of learning a language in an app (which is inherently an individual activity) but the social learning aspect of having a discussion group only enriches the learning experience and does not detract from it.  Of course, the best way to learn these nuances is still with repeated conversations with a person with a mastery of the language ideally a native speaker but the community discussion provides that social setting in which you can read through other people's points of view and perhaps raise a question of your own for other people to comment on. 

I am sad to see this feature go away and I hope that the developers of the app bring it back in some form in the future.