So I recently started using a free online language program: Duolingo. Supposedly, it will help you learn a language in about three months. It's like Rosetta Stone, for people who don't want to drop big bucks.
Before today, I was relatively happy with it. There are some problems with the system, some odd translations and frustrating rules, but all in all, it's not a bad way to learn a language, and the fact that it's free makes it wonderfully accessible.
But wait ... there's more.
It seems to be that the Duolingo community is not a welcoming one. As a social network, Duolingo seems just as bad as any other, specifically in the way moderators (if there are any moderators) allow sexist misogynists to run wild in the comments section. Duolingo's community appears to be populated by the sort of person many of us have come to expect when exploring the murky depths of the internet: The Troll.
This afternoon, I was working on the simple "adjectives" section of my French program when I noticed something interesting in relation to adjectives such as "fat," "round," and "large." They were only used in relation to women. For example, I was asked to translate "The woman is big" and "The woman is large" and "The girl is round." Never was the man any of these things. The man was "nice," "tall" and "handsome." I even had to type "Je suis une baliene" at one point. Want to know what that means? It means "I am a whale."
If you read my work, you know that I'm trying to recover from an Eating Disorder. So maybe I'm more sensitive to this garbage than other people, but nonetheless, sensitive or not, it sure doesn't help.
What did I do? I decided to complain in the comments/forum. I regret it.
Here the first comment I received in response, from a fellow language-learner who calls himself "Zeimer."
If that screen grab is too small, just click it and it should blow up. But also, let me help. His comment was: "If you don't like it you can always stop using duolingo. And if you'll [sic] continue to use it, please shut up. Normal people don't like feminists shitting about sexism, sexist insults etc." Here's a link to Zeimer's profile
. Unfortunately, it doesn't tell me anything about him besides the fact that he's working on various language programs and doing reasonably well. Luckily, his comment tells me all I need to know about both the Duolingo community and the man himself. He's an awful person and Duolingo really doesn't care about moderating bigotry in their community. Pillars of humanity like Zeimer are allowed run wild with their offensive, ignorant nonsense.
So will Duolingo help you learn a language? Probably. But being part of the Duolingo community might not be worth it. I'd pay not to have to rub virtual shoulders with folks like Zeimer, that's for sure.
UPDATE: I have not let Mr. Troll Zeimer's comments stand and have been replying with my own snark at every opportunity. The first thing he told me to do was "please shut up" because he didn't like "feminist shitting," so in response, I haven't felt charitable and I haven't been nice. I've been super sarcastic and it's been great. I began with telling him that he could whine all he wanted, but that he wasn't going to shut me up. Here are some of his hilarious rebuttals. Remember, just click the screen grabs to blow them up.
This next one is one of my favourites. He went back to being mad about the fact that I used the fact that he'd told me to shut up as evidence of the fact that ... he'd told me to shut up. He's really riled about this.
He's really having trouble with the fact that he told me to shut up and I called him on it, so he's holding on to that as if it's the actual issue. It's adorable.
SIGH. I got tired of listening to this dude, and even of antagonizing him. At first, I felt like really pushing him with endless sarcasm, but then I started to feel a tiny bit sorry for him. I left the conversation with this final comment: