Subject: CHALLENGES (and "competitors" who don't really play the game as expected)

Subject: CHALLENGES (and “competitors” who don’t really play the game as expected)
Challenges help to keep motivation, and allow you to learn the desired language.
Did you notice what I noticed?
Some people suddenly appear in a challenge, and they arrive at the first places even though they have been registered on LingQ since only 15 days!
Are they geniuses??? Or would they register for a challenge in their own native language? (while declaring another mother tongue, of course)
I could do the same in French, I would score thousands of points quickly. But I wouldn’t find that “fair play”.
So I won’t do it, because I don’t want to demotivate people who work a lot to progress in French!
And you?


If I start studying a language on LingQ that I’ve previously studied in some other setting, then I end up marking a ton of words as known very quickly, and consequently earn points very easily. Perhaps this is the kind of activity you are seeing.

I don’t think of it as cheating. I think of it as trying to learn a language. Which is what we’re all here for.

What do you think?


Hi BlueBird14! I noticed something strange when I participated in the 90days Turkish Hardcore challenge. We were 9 participants. It was strange that the first 2-3 weeks the scores of the others were all zero. I even took a break for a few days and still I was in first place. Then it changed from one day to the next and everyone got points. However, the scores did not change for the next few weeks, except for one participant. This one participant was suddenly thousands of points ahead of me. As I approached his score, his score jumped thousands of points. That was strange. It was not continuous as I would expect from a normal participant. To me, it seemed like a fake. I then cancelled the challenge.
PS: The logo of this one participant had a green symbol (like a coat of arms) in the lower right corner. It looked exactly like the green symbol shown in the logo of dgbeecher, who also replied here in this thread. Is this a special award? Or are they people who perform moderating tasks at LingQ?

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I agree with you: I myself started with Lingq (to improve my language), after two and a half years of diligent study of a language, with a very good teacher (at University ), and I go on learning with him… . So I gained a lot of points in 30 days on Lingq because I had time to work on Lingq more than 5 hours every day. (+20,000points). With my experience, I don’t think it’s possible to get more points in 14 days… but I could do it easily in French, my main language. Are these people geniuses?? It is possible, but supernatural.
I’m just wondering if anyone has observed the same thing in other languages than the one I’m studying ?

Considering that there are no tangible rewards for completing or winning a challenge, I don’t have much reason to track progress of other people. Personally when I join LingQ challenges, it’s to see how I measure against the set goals (since the motivation aspect quickly disappears), not other people.

On another note… if someone gets demotivated from learning by this kind of behavior by other participants, I’d say they aren’t too serious about learning and will sooner or later quit completely, but the fault would be on them, not on what anybody else is doing.


I’ve got the same perspective as Gigusek above, more or less.

That being said, I’ve noticed a couple ways in which people “cheat” in the challenges.
One user had so many points - in the millions - that I had to take a closer look. So, you know how you can arbitrarily input time listening to a language? This person had entered such an enormous amount of hours that they would have had to been listening non stop, 24 hours a day, for over 6 months. Kinda funny.
Another thing some people seem to be doing is resetting all their known words to unknown in order to set them to known once again for a new challenge. That way they can easily register thousands of words and points.

They abuse the system, in a way, but what can be done?
If its any solace, just imagine that in a real competition with real stakes they would be disqualified without question.


Hi jrernst, just to answer your question about the little coat of arms on my user icon: it denotes that I’m a “librarian” – a role you can learn more about here: Login - LingQ

It does seem, from your report and some others, that there may be some shenanigans going on … though I can’t imagine why, as there are zero incentives for such behavior. Perhaps there’s a good explanation. In any case, like Gigusek, I prefer to measure my progress against the program’s set goals or my own (or occasionally against users I “know” or recognize).

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Give up learning? No way, it’s too important to me. I’ve been studying this language for years, I won’t quit for trivial reasons. But I stopped the challenges, only my progress is interesting, competition with others is not my goal.


I noticed something similar, except that the person in the lead, having joined well into the challenge, shows the language concerned as his native language! I hadn’t joined the challenge to ‘win’, but I was interested in how much effort the people at the top were putting in and where they were putting that effort. I don’t know what they had to gain or even what they thought they had to gain from ‘cheating’, but it didn’t put me off continuing with what I was doing.


I think a challenge only updates your coins, when you open it. So if someone goes for two weeks without opening the challenge to check their position, when they do, it seems like they ‘jumped’ many thousands of points. Really, they have been studying as per normal, but the challenge simply wasn’t up-to-date until they opened it.

With regard to challenges, there was a discussion the other month back, which people here may be interested in:

It’s hard to compare beginners with advanced users. An advanced user can read while listening and if they increase the speed of the audio (and hence the reading speed), they can get 10,000 words read/1,100 coins per hour. A beginner just can’t compete with this. I would suggest to (a) compete with yourself, or (b) compete with others who are one or two rungs above you. Ignore the users, who get first or second with huge margins.


I’m convinced that “cheating” happens, not only in challenges but on the leaderboard as well. I once even reported what I believed to be suspicious activity to Zoran, but didn’t hear back. This was concerning the Spanish hardcore challenges earlier this year, where a user would apparently “read” millions of words per day and thus gain a ridiculous number of coins that made everyone else blush in shame. I didn’t check, but hopefully they stopped doing this.

Why join a challenge though?
I pretty much always join the challenges in Chinese (simplified) just to have a better indication of how active I am and it keeps me accountable, so that when I slack off, I’ll know. “Winning” such a challenge is probably impossible, at least for me as I can’t arbitrarily increase the number of hours I spend on LingQ. So, this has to be clear from the start.
As a measure of activity:
LingQ’s own daily goal system sets really low targets, even at the “insane” level it only requires you to earn 400 coins, while I believe to make meaningful progress a number with 3 digits might be a more reasonable measure. For illustration, I just calculated that the number one in the recent Chinese challenges has gained around 5k coins per day, while I’m sitting at 2k something. That’s probably the difference between treading water and making progress :slight_smile:
(FWIW that user seems legit, btw.)


Thank you all for your wise comments and advice and information.
I learned that you can:

  • be a librarian
  • speed up the listening speed (and that some advanced users would do it to save time, and other people would do it just to earn points)
  • cheat (for irrelevant reasons) by doing a challenge in your native language (as I had thought), or by “bypassing” the system.

After a few months of use, I had found the challenges fun, but I actually don’t need them. My motivation will not weaken, I don’t need to measure myself against others. The only important thing is to be able to speak fluently with the natives of the country that interests me, or when I return there on a trip.


Meh. Don’t get all bent out of shape.
At the end of the day you’re competing against yourself.

So if you need the competition… Identify the folks who are cheating and those who aren’t. Then compare yourself to those who are not cheating.

One thing to know in language learning is that we are not in a zero-sum game. I would place more weight on comparing myself throughout different time frames than competing with others.

The following are possible reasons for users to reset their language on Lingq.

  1. To get a fresh start so user can use a different criterion to mark the lingqed word known.
  2. To try another routine or approach. Such as using a monolingual dictionary once learners reach a decent level in the TL.
  3. To reinforce the basics and maintain momentum in case of hitting a wall in learning.
    We can observe many exciting and valuable things from users’ activities on LingQ. Seeing a sudden jump in known words for a particular user is interesting. Some can review vocabulary words with a minimum count of word reading, and other avid readers can have 100k or even 200k words read in 1 week. Some can read and acquire new words in another setting for a few weeks without relying on Lingq just for the novelty of the approach in their daily routine.

The Mattew effect is genuinely a fantastic phenomenon to be observed in language learning. When I first started typing in Korean, it took me half hour to finish a short paragraph. Now I can do it in about 5 minutes. More advanced learners can acquire new vocabulary words at a comparable speed to a native. I recommend comparing yourself to someone of the same level with a similar background; the difference between TL and NL matters too. You can pat yourself on the back for every mini-goal or milestone you have achieved in the language learning journey.

There are two main things to say about this

  1. You should be more worried about you own progress… but
  2. Still, people who use challenges to cheat are just the worst. So pathetic and pointless and ruins the point of the user being able to compare themselves to others realistically.

I have never done a challenge, because I am motivated enough already and feel I can pick my goals myself. When I was learning languages similar to the ones I already know, I also felt it could have been unfair to others there.

I have however sometimes been very competitive in reaching high known word counts. This has both helped me in that it made me read a lot, but hindered me in how I did not listen enough (or try to write speak enough to some degree). When doing this, I felt it was good to have a real comparison to others to see how I was doing. I like to see how I am beating some people but how there are also Richard Simcott and Alexander Argüelles types out there that show you what extremes are possible. Seeing how others have achieved great numbers can drive some people on. If these numbers are fake, then that is obviously ruined.

Cheating on the challenges is also extra pathetic because most people are here anonymously. It reminds me of how when there are surveys of how many opposite sex sexual partners people have had, men somehow list much, much higher numbers on average than women. This means a lot of men have to lie and exaggerate the numbers, even to an anonymous survey. This is the same type of person who cheats on a LingQ challenge I feel.


Someone who already has an upper-intermediate or even advanced level in a language and starts on LingQ might in the first few days collect vast amounts of coins that merely reflect what they’ve already learned outside of LingQ. I’m about B2 in Spanish and I got from 0 to 12079 known words in pretty much no time, reached over 30,000 coins in the first week, simply because most words I read through LingQ I already knew.

Not to say there aren’t any cheaters; at any game there are some who want the rewards at all costs, at the expense of those who want to play the game for real.


Yes, I started as a low intermediate at LingQ almost two years ago. Although I never joined challenges in the first year, even now, in my second year it’s relatively easy for me to collect points and move up in the challenges.

Nope he/she still there, still at the top of the leaderboard. Although they seemed to have toned it down a little. Only 600,000 words read the past month (probably on one day =) ) . Not the usual couple million a day.

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As some posters here have already noted, advanced readers of a language can acquire known words/coins extremely quickly. I spent december reading a lot in German and I joined the December 90 day challenge - last I checked I had twice as many Known Words added as the second place user. This is because I can read hundreds of words a minute and was reading Advanced 2 level lessons. It may not be perfectly ‘fair’, in that I find adding 500 new Chinese known words to be a big challenge but 500 new German words go by in under a day. Use the challenges as motivation and to keep yourself going, don’t worry too much about how nsprung or some other power user rocketed up to the top.


I don’t think there are many wrongdoings other than some shenanigans messing around with the activity records on LingQ since there are no material gains in doing so. It would be more practical and worthwhile to see what approach people undertake to achieve a certain level in the language or overcome a hurdle when they hit a wall in learning. If you can stay in the top 10 or a number close to the average of the top 10 in known words or coins upon completion of the challenge, then you should have significantly improved your language skills over three months.

Recently I took an interest in reading classic literary works in Chinese to become somewhat fluent in reading the ancient text. And that might give me an extra advantage in learning Korean. Hopefully, I would not be a culprit for demotivating users by appearing on the leaderboard. By the way, I appreciate everyone who contributes to the monolingual definition usage in any language, as I consider it to be another practical approach to language learning in addition to my regular daily routine.

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