Blogger talks about LingQ in German

nihongo-ga-wakarimasen a German blogger who talks about learning Japanese gave LingQ a lukewarm revue. Comments are in German and English. If anyone can comment there, hopefully with positive comments, this would be appreciated. Here is the link.

I believe that he is a member here, Steve.

Members can follow your suggestion, but I’m not sure that it will look good to everyone who reads his blog. It will sound like you don’t take criticism well.

I do not see that at all. I am quite happy to have our members read what he says on his blog and to comment with their own opinions. I think it is good for LingQ to have this project discussed on this blog. People can say what they want, although of course I hope most comments will be positive, what would you expect?

He already knows about LingQ. Lukewarm is better than a thumbs down. I would leave it alone. You may end up turning him and potential members away if his site is flooded.

I thought his criticism was light. I agree with his suggestion for using the library.

(Btw, If Vincent is in Japan and you have time, why not meet him in person and speak in the languages you share? If he agrees, you could do another video pod with him in various languages. I think he would be good to have on your side:)

I have given my opinion. Honestly, the only thing I don’t like about this site or business is the name :slight_smile: I’m pretty sure you would have better success if you used a better word (no suggestions from me). For example, pimsleur has this twang about the word, but every time i tried to recommend lingq to someone they kept asking me to pronounce it several times, spell it, and finally resorted to writing it down.

Also, user interface is sloppy. This is my honest opinion. I tried to book a session with Marianne and took me 5 minutes to look. Maybe if you had big buttons on the right hand side or something that is obvious.

Oh lastly, the apostrophe problem is something that really sh!tted me for months.

I hope one day Steve does a cantonese interview with me :slight_smile:

as I read on that blog, nihongo-ga-wakarimasen “really adore the site”, nevertheless he pointed a list of critical remarks. Here is that list in short version:

  1. It looks like some retro style page from last millennium.
  2. Everything’s a chaotic mess at first glance.
  3. It is not clear “What does LingQ have to offer?” " I’d have to go into Kaufmann’s way of learning before answering this question."

So I would like to put my two penny regarding these issues.
Let’s start from the beginning.

Point 1 - It looks like some retro style page from last millennium.

As far as I know, the design of a web site consists of several components, some of them are colour scheme and graphical elements. As nihongo-ga-wakarimasen used the word “style” speaking about the design in his first remark, I suppose he meant just these two components. Well, in my opinion the style of the LINGQ website is good, it is fairly conform to the mission of the site and don’t need to be “improved”. More over, I would be annoyed if I see this website having a space-age, overly arty layout. So I give my thumb down to his first remark.

Point 2 and 3
I decided to discuss these two points together because they refer to the same issue. This issue is named by the word USABILITY. Usability encompasses many principles and rules, there are many books about it. Nihongo-ga-wakarimasen intuitively noticed only two moments related to the LINGQ web site’s usability and I have to say that he has a bit of rightness.
So point 2 - Every thing’s a chaotic mess at first glance.
I can’t deny it, because in my opinion it is partially true. The starting page of the web site don’t give the visitors the overall picture of the core structure of the sight. At the first glance it makes the impression that it is only about English. To choose another language you have to use a select list on the top of the page. Because that select list doesn’t look as a regular select list, many visitors could fail to realise that there is something to click and to select. As a consequence all other languages, which represent the root structure of the site, remain hidden. Offering the possibility to learn different languages is a real competitive advantage in comparision with the other web sites. Nevertheless it remains not emphasized for the newcomers.

And point 3 - It is not clear “What does LingQ have to offer?” " I’d have to go into Kaufmann’s way of learning before answering this question."
Yeah, in my opinion that’s also true. As I see the things, on the starting page must be placed a visible link to a page containing information about the vision of learning foreign languages the sites is grounded on, a short review of the methodology and emphasizes made therein.
Moreover, I would propose on the starting page to place the short list of all learning functions the site provides. Some of that functions are extraordinary, I’ve never seen something similar on the net. They represent a very strong competitive advantage for attracting a lot of users. But they are also hidden for the newcomers. To discover them the new visitors have to begin an inquiriy of the site, and this is not the best solution. I think that all functions must be displayed on the first page with short descriptions ending with links to independent pages which would provide more extensive explanations about such or such functionality. As an example I would refer to a job hunting website CAREERSANDJOBSUK.COM, which has on his starting page a section named “Services available to registered Jobseekers” (see

Finally let me to summarize: In my opinion it would be good to create a starting page which:

  1. will reveal the root structure of the entire website for easier orienting in navigation;
  2. will display for the newcomers the advantages of the website: all supported languages for learning, all provided learning functions and so on.

At the end I want to express my admiration towards Steve Kaufmann and towards this web site. He is really a prodigious and talented personality. And the website he elaborated is really a great job.

Said blogger is me. Thanks for the link to my blog, I also posted one to this forum thread in return, so in the end, we might have more people with more insight and some interesting suggestions to work with for this site.

I tried to be fair when reviewing, like I try for every post I do. Fairness not only to the product, learning material or website I talk about, but also to the reader. This means, no matter how much I like something, if it has flaws, I HAVE to point them out. I found them, so chances are, other people will aswell.

Yes, there are flaws here. What I missed was a red thread. The registration process of Lang-8 provides the user with a pre-set environment that enables them to start the action right now, and if they like it, continue on their own later on. While that site also has a lot of flaws, this particular thing is something I could imagine for LingQ, too. How you accomplish to establish that red thread is up to you. There are so many user tutorials for so many different things, and some of them are really good, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel.

There are also irritating things like clicking on the same word inside a text increases the counter on the right, while it’s not obvious what’s happening. As for the menues to do LingQs, sometimes you’ll find translations of the words you’re looking up, sometimes not. Sure, there are links to online ressources right there, but for someone who’s new, the fact might be irritating as well.

“What does LingQ have to offer?” - Deucalion put it way more eloquently than me. I think reading up on his POV provides you with what I think you can do to improve the site, especially its first impression. If it looks like work, and be it only the work to do three or four additional clicks, people are turned off. Let’s be pragmatic here, a “it doesn’t matter/it’s not so bad” doesn’t change the problem itself, or the fact that atleast ONE user had this perception. Chances are, others might have seen it similarly. Atleast I pointed it out and didn’t move on silently, so you’re aware of what I think about it.

All in all, I hope my review got my points across properly, as my English is not very good. If not, the German version should clear up misunderstandings, if one cares to read it (and speaks German).

No, comments on the blog page won’t come across as being bad at being critizised. Steve posted his comment, and in a friendly and rational manner. IMO, more opinions and points of view are useful, so if you feel like discussing my points with me, you can do it either on my blog, or here.


@ Andi

I am glad you explained the German grading here, perhaps it also merits an explanation on your blog? Without an understanding of the reversed values, many people will read your comments as being very negative about Ling, which you clearly are not. I have replied to some points of your original posting on your blog.

I really appreciate all these comments. I am sure Mark will have more to say.

My initial reaction.

  1. Thanks to Andi for doing a review of LingQ! Thanks to others for their comments here and on Andi’s blog.

  2. I do not think we are about to change our design. It is simple and functional. It appeals to some and not to others.

  3. We should do a better job of explaining what site offers, how it works, and why it works. Yes. We struggle with this all the time because people do not want to read, they just want to start, and LingQ is quite complex, powerful yet complex. There are some good ideas here. We are also working on a few things. Stay tuned.

  4. Andi, I wonder if you could elaborate on the following comment. I do not quite follow.
    re "There are also irritating things like clicking on the same word inside a text increases the counter on the right, while it’s not obvious what’s happening. As for the menues to do LingQs, sometimes you’ll find translations of the words you’re looking up, sometimes not. Sure, there are links to online ressources right there, but for someone who’s new, the fact might be irritating as well. "


I will soon firm up the dates for our Japan meet ups, and it would be great if Vincent joined us.

@SanneT: I wrote the following on the blog: “In school grades: 3, but could be a 1.”
To clear up the confusion, it works like this: 1: very good, 2: good, 3: satisfactory, 4: fair/pass, 5: inadequate, 6: fail. I’ll post it on my blog accordingly.

@Steve: There’s a counter to the upper right on the site inside texts. When you click a word (any word) inside the text repeatedly, this counter increases.
When you click on an unknown word, and the window opens to create the LingQ, there will be links to online dictionaries. Sometimes they also contained a translation for me, sometimes not. I never really tried to fied out how it comes, as I always wrote my own notes anyways, but I know that when I tried to make LingQs in the beginning, and that window was empty, I was really confused if I really did the right thing.

@kaze - Thank you for the feedback, the writeup, and the comments! As Steve says, we’re always glad to hear what people think of the site, good or bad. Obviously, there was much about LingQ that you liked. There are always going to be some aspects of design that some people like and others don’t. Can we improve our design and usability? Undoubtedly, yes, however this is a process that never ends and is something we have continued to do since the site launched. We will take your feedback into account in this ongoing process. Keep in mind that the site feels a bit confusing because there is a lot happening. There is always a struggle between how much to show people right away and trying to keep things uncluttered to make sure users are aware of the key activities available to them without overwhelming them.

The New Word number increases when you select a previously Known word because we need that number to get to 0 if you LingQ all blue words and it subtracts 1 ever time you create a LingQ. Not the most elegant solution and something we plan to look at in the near future. At the time, it was a way to make sure the number of New Words did not become a negative number.

We hope new users will watch the Lesson page video to see that they can create their own Hints. It is difficult to make sure everyone understands this and we will try to think about what else we can do. There is nothing else we can do about words for which there are no hints.

@ Deucalion - Keeping in mind that the majority of users are not interested in reading help text and explanations, it is not always easy to get some of the concepts across that you have brought up. We continually discuss how to do these things and will see what else can be done.


Kaze wrote in a comment - - to his blog post (in German): “Trotzdem hatte ich mit FF und Chrome abundzu verbuggte, halb transparente Tooltips, die nicht vollständig verschwanden, aber auch nicht mehr auf Input reagierten, und dergleichen.”

In English:
“Nevertheless I had with FF and Chrome from time to time semi-transparent tooltips that did not disappear completely. The also no longer responded to input…”

I must say that this annoys me too.

I don’t understand why you and/or your developers decided to implement JQuery/JavaScript fade-in/fade-out effects. These are completely useless, cost a lot of CPU, and behave buggy sometimes. No reaction to mouse clicks etc. can also happen sometimes.

I would very much appreciate if you could remove these fade-in/fade-out effects, especially when displaying LingQs while hovering, and when closing the subwindow after LingQ-ing. Thank you.

@ hape - I have noticed that myself. I find that the popup buttons still work but it is a little annoying when the popup is fading out on you. I have passed your suggestion on to our development team.

I would appreciate if you could do something related to this issue. I’ve experienced the same.

SanneT made me aware of some connotations in the English version of my text I didn’t intend. I fixed them accordingly. They don’t change a lot, but sometimes it’s the small things that stick in mind.

Yeah, I forgot to mention the tooltip issue here in the forum too. Hope you can get that fixed. Thanks.