What it´s like to fulfill open exchange requests

Today I fulfilled a translation request on the open exchange. The task was translating a word list from English into German…the list looked like that…

The drab office building
The dramatic debate
The droopy rabbit ears
The dutiful cleaner
the elaborate hoax

…and was 1157 words long.
I saw that the request was posted only 3 or 4 minutes ago so I decided to fulfill it, posted a simple “I´m working on it!^^” and started translating. 2200 points sounded like a decent reward.^^

Fulfilling the request took 2 hours. Even though I didn´t have to look up most words because I´ve been studying English for 16 years. Even though I´m pretty good at typewriting. Even though I didn´t take any breaks.

So, after 2 hours of work I clicked on “Fulfill request” (4 minutes before my PC crashed^^), just to find out that someone else had already posted a half-finished exchange request (670 of 1150 words). Writing “I´m working on it” 3 or 4 minutes after the request was posted turned out to be “too late”.^^

A few hours later, the person who posted the request gave 1500 to the user who posted a half-finished response. I received 700 points and a “you´ll get the rest later”. She probably didn´t even bother checking the responses OR our comments before she started allocating the points. Then I started thinking about that thread where someone who never fulfilled a single request complained about LingQ being “waaaay to expensive” and Lang-8 being a much better alternative.

I think there´s room for improvement. The situation I described above sucks for everyone who´s involved. LingQ could at least implement a “someone´s already working on it”-warning or something like that.

What do you guys think?


What I like about LingQ-System is that it´s fair. If you´re busy, you can just buy points and don´t have to help anyone. If you don´t wanna buy points, you can help others and get a comparable amount of help back. I can do an audio-recording for a brit and exchange it for a writing correction from a Japanese person. When it comes to fairness and freedom, that´s the best system ever.

The only problem is that it needs a lot of improvement. Which is why I opened this thread.

“The situation I described above sucks for everyone who´s involved.”

It doesn’t suck for the person who wrote a half-finished translation and received more than two points a word for it, compared to your just-over-half-per-word for doing the entire thing.

Posting half-finished corrections/translations is cheating the system anyway, as far as I’m concerned. You’re getting paid for doing half the amount of work that was asked of you and, since it doesn’t take as long, you’re effectively ‘stealing’ points from the people who take longer because they’re actually completing the task at hand.

The same thing happens on Lang-8 and it pisses me off there, too. Some random Spanish guy corrects a single spelling mistake in your French entry and all of a sudden it’s marked as “corrected” and then no actual French people actually correct it.

I think something should be incorporated to fight half-finished exchange posts… don’t really know what, though^^
Maybe you could set it up with that individual sentence structure Lang-8 has and each sentence must be corrected/translated before the post can be submitted (include something to account for sentences that don’t need to be corrected). That could still be abused, but at least people would have to put more effort into giving half-assed corrections.^^

@Lynkusu “It doesn’t suck for the person who wrote a half-finished translation and received more than two points a word for it…”

That person read my “I´m working on it!”-comment when her own translation was already 50% finished and decided to stop.

I agree with the rest of your post though.^^

Ideally the person who receives the responses waits until a response is completed before awarding points. I typically wait a day or 12 hours at least to see if there aren’t multiple responses, then award points based on quality of response. Not a perfect system but a free market system where people are free to respond and award points as they like. I have found it to work very well from a learners perspective.

Paule, I fully support your suggestion. It is something I had brought up myself earlier. I don’t partizipate in open requests any longer because of this awful situation.

@Mark: Please fulfill some open requests, work for hours on them and then getting only a third or less of the points you’ve expected. Then you will understand our point much, much better.


@mark How bout the corrector’s perspective? You guys do a bunch of work and then I’ll decide how to divvy up the money afterward. Work first and then I might throw you a bone. A free market system? That isn’t even a system. When you don’t know what you’ll be paid, that’s completely different than the market setting the price.You don’t know the price until after the job’s done (if you get paid at all), which means there isn’t any sense in pretending there’s a price in the first place. It’s an arbitrary, reward-based free for all.

“Not a perfect system” is a cop out. There’s no other way to look at it; it’s a raw deal for the correctors. I like that Lingq is willing to try out stuff like this, but enough’s enough. It’s time for you guys to go back to the drawing board on this one.


I think that they system works well for submitters, but from Mark’s comments it’s clear that the corrector has not been given much thought by the devlopment team.

A submission could be ‘accepted’ and then have a label saying ‘x people are working on this submission’. When accepting, a message could be sent to everybody that has already accepted, and a reminder that points may be split between submisisons. In the current system, nobody knows what anybody else is doing.

Also, I think there should be an indication of the corrector’s native language. Some of the very well meaning non-native English correctors make unnatural errors, and submitters need to be aware that not all corrections are equal.


The fact is that many people are quite happy to do the corrections and help other people learning their language. Any points they receive are a bonus. In addition, if multiple people respond, the submitter is welcome to distribute more points although they certainly are not obligated to. One of the things we wanted to achieve here is to have more people participating in the helping of others and so far it seems to be working that way. For those who prefer to be rewarded with a set, guaranteed amount, you will have to get people to submit directly to you.

I think it´d be cool if submitters could choose how many corrections/recordings they want. Sometimes there are too many responses, which creates a dilemma where the submitter spends more points than he/she intended to, in order to make it fair. In the case I described above, the submitter wanted to spend 2200 on one submission and ended up spending 3000 points on two submissions.

One side payed than they wanted and the other side received less points than they expected.

“Any points they receive are a bonus.”

Points are money and money is the standard tool to show one´s appreciation for the services of other people. I appreciate the efforts that Japanese LingQers have made to correct my writing and record audio-files for me. Saying “Thank you” is good, saying “Thank you” while paying a few dollars is better. The same thing applies when I´m helping others. That´s my understanding of “a free market”…not “any points you receive are a bonus”.


Check out this carpooling website: http://www.carpooling.com/us/

The driver says “I´m going to L.A. and I have two sets available” and them poor car-less peasants can get one of these seats with one or two mouse clicks. As soon as two people have joined the driver, no one else can join. I think we could do the same thing on the exchange.

Mark, that makes no sense at all. It’s all about math.

There is an exchange and 900 points are offered. 3 people makes a correction. Each one get 300 points. They want to have a text corrected too. They have earned only 300 points.

Scenario 1:
They offer only 300 points. There are again 3 correctores. Each earns 100 points now. You can imagine to what this leads …

Scenario 2:
They want to offer 900 points for a correction because they know this is the normal price. They have to make 3 corrections to get one text corrected. Is this really an “exchange”? Will they be happy with this? I don’t think so.

Both scenarios don’t work. They only work as long as there are newcomers who don’t understand the system. As soon as they understand the system they will be at least dissapointed. Maybe they will quit LingQ.


I understand what you are saying. It’s worth pointing out that private exchange requests function exactly as they did before. Public exchange requests are fundamentally different. It is only because your expectation is that all points posted should be awarded to one corrector that you are disappointed. In fact the idea behind public corrections is that multiple people may respond. As long as those people responding are not expecting to receive all the points posted they are generally happy with whatever points they get awarded. I have had this experience using the exchange. The people that I award points to are happy doing the correction and get a few points to spend on the site. If that model does not work for you, then you absolutely should not respond to public exchange requests. That decision is up to you. Our experience has been, that responses in general are just as quick if not quicker for open requests and, with multiple responses, provide a different and often better experience. Both options of correcting request are available to users. It is up to them how they wish to post their submissions. Just as it is up to the correctors whether or not they wish to correct both types of exchange request. We have no intention of switching to a different model.


It seems like every single other person in this thread disagrees with you.
As a member of the development team, shouldn’t you take people’s criticisms of the system and suggestions for improvement into consideration instead of defending the current system? Instead of flat out telling them, “If you don’t like it, stop using it”? That doesn’t sound like a very good business plan. It doesn’t matter how great you think it is if the users generally disagree. They’re the ones for whom the service is intended – especially the paying members.
I mean, the development team is free to do as they wish – it’s their website. But I would have thought that users’ opinions would play at least some sort of role.

“We have no intention of switching to a different model.”

Has anyone suggested that? I thought we were talking about improving the existing model. Others demonstrated how the system is flawed, I suggested implementing a way to limit the number of responses you want and I linked to a website that has already found a way to do so.

And you´re like “I understand. But no.”

Well, you´re welcome.

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I think I´ll get the hell outta here as soon as I find a site that´s similar to LingQ AND gives a fuck about the people who create their content, pay for being members, answer questions on the forum, tutor other members, contribute to the exchange and suggest ways to improve the site. (<— people who spend their time filling your pockets)

The only thing that keeps me on LingQ is that I don´t know an alternative. But yeah, I think the “free market” will provide that alternative sooner or later.

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@lynkusu - I don’t mean to offend anybody. I am simply explaining our position. We do listen to our members all the time and make changes to accommodate requests all the time. In this case, I’m not really seeing a way to do so that will work for us. In fact, we have a lot of things in front of us now on more important site functionality so are not looking to do much in this area. In the end, we have to do what we think is right.

@Paule - I’m sorry I offended you. I was not trying to do so. I was simply stating our position. In terms of your suggestion, it is possible that would be beneficial to some users but at the same time, it increases the number of things a user needs to think about and do when submitting, another thing to explain. How many responses do I want? I don’t know. What happens if a user selects 3 responses and then only gets 1? Do they wait until the others are completed? Do they hold points back in case this happens? Whatever you do there are other issues that arise.

Right now, if I have received two responses, I can award the points and the request is then closed. Or, if I’m not happy with the responses, I can wait for more. It is up to the user to award points and manage their request as they see fit. We think this is a fair way of doing it but it’s not perfect.

We implemented this system, we find it to be more flexible than what we had before and we find it gets more people involved than previously. We are not against tinkering with it but not unless we see something that is obviously better for everybody. Otherwise, we bring in changes that make one person or group happy and make another unhappy and are no further ahead. We appreciate the feedback. We listen to our members and respond to their feedback all the time. We know how much our system relies on contributions of our members. Unfortunately, with a community like ours it is not possible to please everybody. We must simply try our best to do those things that benefit the majority of users.

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" I’m sorry I offended you. I was not trying to do so."

I´m not offended, I simply disagree with LingQ. Whenever there´s a suggestion, you guys say “Cool, but we have other things to do”. You guys can do whatever you want, but people will spend their money elsewhere if they disagree with you and find an alternative.
Well, at least, I will.

“In terms of your suggestion, it is possible that would be beneficial to some users but at the same time, it increases the number of things a user needs to think about and do when submitting, another thing to explain.”

The current system is pretty simple. Write or paste a text, tick a box and click submit. Such think, many complexity, wow.
If you agree that it´d be beneficial for some users, why not make it optional? New users don´t have to worry about it, “experienced” users get exactly what they want. Everyone´s happy.

“What happens if a user selects 3 responses and then only gets 1? Do they wait until the others are completed? Do they wait until the others are completed?”

That problem already exists anyway, doesn´t it?

“Unfortunately, with a community like ours it is not possible to please everybody. We must simply try our best to do those things that benefit the majority of users.”

Everyone on this thread seems to be unsatisfied with the exchange. I´m still waiting for “the majority of users” to come on this thread and give roses to your comments and post that they don´t want any changes.

@Paule89 - When I read your first post, I definitely sympathized with your situation, and we’ve had several reports since our addition of the Open Request feature where members (ones who have contributed significantly to the site) had spent a lot of time on a correction only to see the points be given out or another member submit a response before them that wasn’t nearly as thorough or well done.

From the very introduction of the Open Request feature (in addition to the Closed Request feature that was an extension of the previous writing correction system), we tried to make it clear that the idea with the Open Request was that points weren’t guaranteed. This was instead a way to open up a request to multiple tutors, hopefully resulting in quicker responses and more interaction from members. Our data has shown significant improvements in the overall speed and the number of interactions. However, we still struggle with the first part. I don’t know that our goal is to necessarily guarantee points to any member, as that isn’t really the nature of the Open Request. However, there probably are things we can do to better communicate this to members.

The Open Request is not for everyone (myself included), but if you look at the Exchange there are lots of members who are using it and we do honestly receive far fewer complaints about this new system than we did about the previous system, so overall it was a good change, though not a perfect one.

We’ll give this another look, and see if we can make some changes here that will improve usability and hopefully lessen the occurrence of instances like yours from yesterday.

We get lots of feedback every day from members about what they want to see on the site, how they think we can improve things, issues they come across, etc. All of this feedback is great, and it helps us to make the site better. Lots of the changes, even here on this forum, are the result of requests directly from our members: (1) Country flags, (2) Links to posts made by a user, (3) A +Rose button to like posts, (4) Edit and Delete buttons, (5) The new Captcha.

Other pages have been much more heavily influenced by user feedback, including the Learn page, the Library, the Vocabulary page, the Lesson page, the Exchange, our mobile apps and more.

We honestly wouldn’t be where we are today without the feedback from our members. However, with feedback there are sometimes things that don’t align with our goals as a company and we can’t possibly implement everything or cater to everyone’s wishes. First off it spreads us too thin, and we just become ineffective at implementing anything, and secondly it distracts us from goals that we’ve already identified (many of which came about due to member feedback). Receiving feedback is great as long as there isn’t a constant expectation that we implement everything that is suggested.

All in all, we’re still a small team here at LingQ, and our todo lists are much longer than we care to admit. But we’re determined to keep improving the site, and we’ve been fortunate enough to grow our staff further to provide what we hope is even better service to our members. If I look back to our site in 2010, 2011, 2012 and even 2013, I realize how far we’ve come, and how there really are always things that can be done. It’s a tricky game picking and choosing which ones make the cut, and some people get frustrated along the way (including us here at LingQ), but I’m not sure there’s any clean way around it. All in all, our overall trend is positive, and while we don’t always know the best thing to do (we are human, after all), every decision is based on any number of factors, including our own opinions, user feedback and usage data.