Points System Changes

On March 3, 2008 we will make the following changes to the points system:

  1. Points will no longer be valid forever. Any new points you buy or are given will expire after 30 days. You will have 30 days from March 3 to use up the existing points in your account. (This gives you almost two months from now to use these points up.)
  2. The points that expire will not just disappear. These points will be put back into the community to benefit all members. These points will be given to those members who are most active. This means members with high Activity Scores and those who are active in content creation, site translation or any other ways that benefit the community.

Why are we doing this? Quite frankly, we want you to be more active on the site. We know that the more you do, the better you will learn. Right now there are many members who are building up points in their accounts and not using them. Many of you need an incentive to be more active.

We have heard from former members of TheLinguist that they were more active before because the system was less flexible. They were forced to be active to take advantage of the services they were entitled to. We are trying to introduce a similar form of motivation at LingQ. Hopefully by getting more members active, Events will be better attended, social interaction will increase and members will enjoy the site more and improve faster.

We think these changes will make our community better and we hope you do, too. Please let us know what you think.

Here are some comments from LingQCentral:

Hello! This news is quite surprising to me. I like this current system, because it is flexible. I am the one who is building up my points, but it’s not just doing it because I am lazy. I often use my points to submit writing. When I have time, I write a lot.I can write freely because I have plenty of points. I couldn’t submit writing before because in the previous system, I had deadline.I am a slow learner. If the points expire in a month, I feel as if I was forced to study to use points. A month of expiration date is too short! Please extend the expiration date to benefit all members of the LinQ. - yukoxoxo2000

Hi,

I agree with yukoxoxo2000. This news is regrettable for me.

I had been a basic member before but nowadays I upgraded to the premium member, because that 3000 points a month were not enough for me. Maybe 7500 points a month was actually too many for me, but the points were valid forever, it was not necessary to worry about it.
However I think I could not stay at the premium member if the points would expire after 30 days. I don’t know whether I use all points during 30 days. I know the points will put back into the community, however I think I could not be the most active person. I need more time than other people to make out the contents completely. Certainly I try to join the events and submit my writing, but I’d like to spend time to read or listen to the contents, too. I think listening and reading (which are not reflected in the Activity Score) are also important.
I would go back to the basic member if the points system changed. I think my activity would be smaller than before.

Regards, - gecko413

Hi,
I agree with both members who made comments about the points system changes. I do want to improve my english skills, I really wish to become fluent, but currently I can’t dedicate much more time to my studies. Don’t forget that most of the members have a professional life and obviously a family life. I don’t want my studies to be detrimental to my family life. I want to have fun at studying.I don’t want learning english to be a chore. I don’t feel like learning english as I did when I attended school. I am a basic member and I have to admit that I am short of points at times, but when it happens, I buy extra points. It does not make problems to me. I think that 7500 points each month would be too much for me most of the time.
In my point of view, sharing unused points with the community is unfair. The fact that people are less active than others does not mean that they are less motivated. I am motivated. Learning english is a real passion. My retention rate may be lower than members average, but my motivation and my willingness are at least the same. I am not less deserving.
I do hope you will reconsider your decision or at least that you try to make the new system more flexible.
Best regards
Serge

We are not calling anybody lazy. We are doing this largely because on TheLinguist our members did a lot more writing and speaking than they are currently doing on LingQ. We are trying to figure out how we can get LingQ members to be more active. On TheLinguist there was more pressure to use up your speaking and writing credits before they expired.

Having said that, the system on LingQ will be much more flexible. There are 3 levels of membership. You don’t have to buy points if you don’t want to use them. You can buy points whenever you want. If you only want to write and speak occasionally, you can just be a Basic member and buy points when you want to use them.

However, for those of you who upgrade to Plus or Premium and are given a points allowance each month, you will have a little bit of pressure to use up these points now. This will provide that missing motivation, which we had on TheLinguist, to make sure you use your points and are active.

I appreciate the opinions of these active users. We would like to hear more opinions. Our desire is to have an active community that works for everyone.

The fact is that we have noticed a considerable reduction in participation in our discussions, and in writing. Our tutors are less busy than before. A number of members have told us that they did more in The Linguist than they are doing now.

The system we are now proposing is much more flexible, for most people, than the old Linguist system.

  1. You can use your points for whatever you want. You are not committed to so much Writing or Speaking. If you want to write more, you write more. If you want to speak more you speak more.
  2. Whenever you feel you are not going to be active, you can always downgrade to Basic for a month or more and buy your points as you need them. When you feel you will have a lot of time to study you can upgrade.

We also feel that people who help us with content, such as Serge, and others, should be rewarded with points. Since we have noticed that members are reluctant to take items that cost points as long as there are free items available, we think this way will help us to compensate members for these activities.

We are keen to build up our content in a number of languages and I think it is only fair to reward those people that help us by awarding them points.

Again, in the old Linguist system, you paid for so much writing and speaking and if you did not use your entitlement, it was gone. I think the proposed system is a good compromise between the need for flexibility on the part of the learner, and what is needed to operate the system.

Of course, there will be a little more pressure from now on, but I can’t see this pressure as being so unbearable. It isn’t that difficult to waste 3000 points in one month. And about the Premium membership, I believe it would be used only during somewhat concentrated periods of study.
But I wonder if it would be fair to include points bought in the old system into the new one…

I think you’re right Ana. Premium would be meant for more intensive periods of study. Regarding points bought under the old system, there may be special cases where people could get some of their points refunded.

I agree with the new system because I can’t buy points and I can’t beat people who join 58 events in a month, because I can’t use points…

But I understand the perspective of those who pay for their points and then are forced to use them quickly or loose them… But I think those members can buy in small amounts and use them when they want and can…

So, overall, I agree with the new system.

Pedro, I totally sympathize with your frustration about this 58-events-a-month girl…

First of all I respect all of our students regardless of how much time they have to study and how they choose to study. We are one community.

We will find the best solution to this situation, one that suits the majority of our members and even deals with individual cases fairly.

I do not see the change you’re going to make as a matter of laziness or not. If we did not use the number of discussions and words of writing we were entitled with the Linguist, they were lost. Therefore, it’ll be a new ‘old’ system. LingQ will be even fairer as it’s a system with points.
Each of us study at his/her own pace, and with LingQ more choices can be made comparing to The Linguist.

Human sometimes need a kind of pressure to reach their goals, in this case to be more active. The study must stay a pleasure though, up to us to know how many pressure we’ll get by choosing the more appropriate membership level to our situation. Each person can choose it and buy adding points or upgrade-downgrade when they have more or less time to study.

The fact to lose points can be incentive for members to participate more as it was the case with TL, and participation is incentive for tutors too, I think. It’s a wheel. Participation and interest we show bring more tutors, setting more discussions. More active discussions bring more enthusiasm as well, and enthusiasm will stimulate us to participate more. This is what I think about discussions. Writing more is course important, but as a member I give my feeling concerning Events.

Nevertheless, getting back to the switch with the new points system, maybe it’ll be fairer to allow an extra time, another month I don’t know, in order that members who have not a lot of time to study spend points they might have accumulated until now.

In conclusion, if the new system can bring more activity, I totally agree with it. Even if I prefer LingQ, I miss the activity TL had.

Hi Mark & Steve,

I don’t know if you will make the changes on March, 3rd or not, but just in case, I decide downgrade my membership from this month. I have lots of points and I don’t want to lose them. For me, this change is very harmful but if you consider that it is better, I will accept it.

I will be a basic member, however I want strongly to use “Ask your tutor” service. So I would like you to consider that we can use “Ask your tutor” service for basic member in some way, for example, using points or something. Please!!!

I agree with Yasuko about the ‘Ask you Tutor’ function… If I get to have points for writing and still can’t write and see my texts corrected, it’ll be a bit weird…

But, I’m not sure, we can still ask the other members to correct it, right?

Basically I agree with the change of points system. As Marianne mentioned, we sometimes need a kind of pressure to go forward ( to attain our own goals). However, in my personal opinion, it is not good to announce to us this plan just before 1 month. It is not fair. We have thought that we could use our points whenever we want, and we could use them forever. It is natural we are very upset by knowing suddenly this sad news.
I think 30 days of expiration date is too short. I agree if the expiration date would be at least 60 day ( 6 months if possible ). It will be more flexible.

As you can see in this thread, this is a tricky problem. How do we balance the need to stimulate more participation with the need to be fair and provide flexibility?

After following your feedback and talking over the issue some more, we still believe we have to put an expiration time on the points but we are going to make the expiration time 90 days instead of 30 days. This obviously gives you much more flexibility in using your points.

This means you will have 90 days to use any points you receive after March 3rd and you have almost 4 months to use any points that you currently have in your account.

I should also clarify that your points will expire no matter which membership level you have. There seems to be some confusion that this change will only affect Plus or Premium members but this is not the case. Anyone with points in their accounts, no matter what their membership level, will have their points expire.

Hi Yasuko,

We’re sorry that you have felt the need to downgrade to Basic but, of course, all members have to decide which level is going to work best for them under the new system. Hopefully, the change of the points expiration time from 30 days to 90 days will make you reconsider. Otherwise, we don’t have any plans to offer tutoring as a separate option but it is something we can consider in the future.

For the sake of interest, how many other members would be interested in an add-on “tutoring” option? Tutoring would include asking questions on the forum and a monthly report.

Which is more attractive? The tutor questions or the monthly report?

How would you feel about a system where you were charged points for every question you ask? These points could even be awarded to the tutors or members who answer them.

I think that could be a good idea this per question charge. Maybe it would encourage people to be more independent and ask their tutors only for those “impossible to find” answers.

Then, will the new points system only start in 90 days or will it start on the 3rd of March and people who have points in their accounts will be charged later?

And what do you mean by monthly report? A kind of resume of every question and its answer? I think that would too much time and in the end of the month the person who asked the question would already have forgotten it…

sacadura,

The new system will be implemented on March 3rd. From that day on, all points will be valid for 90 days. I’m not sure what you mean by charged later. The charging system is not affected.

The monthly report refers to the progress report that members receive from their tutor each month.

We at LingQ are committed to creating the best language learning community on the web, and in the world. I think that Jill, Mark and I have always tried to respond to each and every problem that has arisen with our system. ( And there have been quite a few.)

We are working to make it better. Much of the programmers’ work in the last few months has been behind the scenes and you are not seeing it yet. Please be patient.

We would not do anything to hurt the community nor individuals in it. That is not how the system will grow. I just hope that you have confidence in us.

That said, not everything we do is right. We make mistakes. We appreciate the feedback and we respond. We have extended the period of time for using points to 90 days, for example, starting in almost one month from now. That is reasonable. Anyone who is still inconvenienced can contact us.

Please remember that in the old Linguist system everyone paid every month.

People who never did anything paid. There were many of them, and despite our emails and tutor reports, the never did anything, just paid.

People who used the content and functions but never used tutors or wrote, also paid, every month. They paid the same as people using tutors.

People who were unable to study for a month or two still paid the same.

The system we have now is much, much more flexible and much fairer for the vast majority of users.

We can only succeed as a community if we can continue to grow. We need lots of active and motivated learners who enjoy the system, improve their language skills, and tell their friends.

So the issue is not one or two members who are adversely affected by the change. We can find ways to satisfy their situations. The issue is how to make our community more active, more dynamic and therefore more successful for everyone.

We want to continue to improve, develop and expand. We all have to work together to make it happen. We will all benefit.

I understand your decision. If I can add an “asking questions to tutors on the forum” option, I want to add it very much.

I want to make sure if I understand right about this new point system. My understanding is that any new points purchased after March 3rd will expire after 90 days. So any points purchased before March 3rd don’t have a expiring date, right?

I have a free membership now because I bought a lot of points when LingQ didn’t have a monthly membership charges. I don’t think I can use them all within 90 days. One of the reason is because I quit joining discussions. A very few discussions are available in my study time, and I still feel it it is kind of costly to spend 500 points for 15 mins when I thought I could have an 1 hr discussion. (I know I should write longer and more often, but I am doing what I can do for now and I still cannot consume points. )