What Updates Have Been Done & What's Coming?

Hi Karab, thanks for letting us know you’re interested in seeing the updates listed on our forum or blog. We’re working on a bunch of cool features at the moment, but I’ve opened a ticket with the dev team so we can add it to our to-do list.

If you have any other feature requests or there’s anything else we might do to improve Clozemaster, please don’t hesitate to let us know.

Georgiana @Clozemaster

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Hi Karab!

Great question! I’ll jump in from the dev side. We definitely need to improve our communication / transparency in what we’re working on.

At the moment we’re making a lot of fixes and updates to the codebase to the lay the foundation for the future. Clozemaster was built somewhat hastily in order to find out what works and what doesn’t. Now we’re going back and building things properly. The goal of these changes are to:

  • Allow moderators to more easily resolve reported errors. We really want to focus on improving sentence quality.
  • Allow us to more easily add more Grammar Challenges and Pro groupings as well as more languages and language pairings.
  • Allow for all collections to be downloadable / available offline on the mobile app (currently just the Fast Track is downloadable).
  • Better integrate the user created custom cloze-collections and make them available in the mobile app.
  • More easily / frequently update from Tatoeba and other sources.

Some changes you’ll see:

  • You’ll review sentences by collection rather than all clumped together (for example review just Fast Track sentences, then just sentences for a particular Most Common Word grouping, etc.).
  • Favorites will also be available to view and review by collection rather than just all clumped together.
  • We’re going to put a cap on the number of times a given cloze appears in the Most Common Words groupings, for example the collection will only include 5 sentences that have the missing word ‘foo’. We’re still undecided on what the number should be, interested to hear of course if you have any thoughts.
  • Sentence search and manage collection UIs will get an update.

Those are the changes we’re looking to get released as soon as possible within the next few months. Around then or a bit after we’ll also get a long overdue mobile app update out with more downloadable content as mentioned above, as well as bug fixes like the text input width one you reported and features to match the web version (text input coloring option, infinite rounds, etc.).

We’re definitely interested to hear what you think of the above, if you have any questions, or anything you might like to see added or changed.

Thanks again!

Mike

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Mike,

Thanks for the info. This is all fantastic and your crew is doing a great job. We language learners appreciate CM a ton, especially since it fills a major gap in the language learning sites/apps out there. I have some thoughts below.

I don’t know how often the users are reporting issues, but for me I’m really surprised by the lack of interaction by the user base. By contrast, Duolingo is a wealth of people talking to each other about their learning. And Duolingo actually sucks for learning, lol. For me, somehow flagging sentences and discussion should be one and the same thing. I usually do both things when I find an issue anyway: I flag it (to the mods) and I put up a comment in the discussion toggle for the users in case they have thoughts. But lately, I just stopped flagging things because I felt like it was extra work that disappeared into the feedback-less void.

If the discussion/flagging was integrated, you could essentially allow users to vote on the issue and comment. Think of it like a reddit thread, where users can boost or neg a post. This may attract more attention for the mods to focus on certain issues more than others. And your mods wouldn’t need to be experts in the language at all or rely solely on one user’s explanation; let the users in aggregate explain highlight the issue. A user could have the option still of either posting with a comment a ‘problem with translation,’ ‘problem with sentence,’ or ‘other’ (maybe even color code these for ease on the eyes) but then that is public for all the users to see, vote, and discuss. Then the majority of these threads on the forum aren’t just one guy talking to himself.

As far as UI goes, I’d also like the ability to see/comment on the discussion embedded in the app/website for that specific sentence we are talking about. No need to jump back and forth from the forum or leave your study session.

This is a great idea because it’s extremely tedious after a while especially when the 1-100 group for Spanish is roughly a 1:4 ratio but the 101-500 is a 1:15 ratio. In fact, part of why I took a break from ClozeMaster was that if I tried to do 50, 100, 200 new sentences a day (by text input, since that’s the best way to learn IMO)… I would eventually get so overwhelmed by the number of reviews I had to do each day while still making time to learn new sentences. Right now, after taking a 6 month hiatus (lol, has nothing to do with the New Year but because I’m in Costa Rica for the next couple of months) I had 2000 sentences to review and I had to switch to multiple choice just to speed through them. A lot of them are repetition of certain words I don’t need to see all the time.

In my head, 5 sounds like a good number but I’ll let you know as I play through some new words. This is hard to gauge because of idioms or the complexity of the sentence, which I’m sure neither are given some sort of priority or rating above the mere appearance of the clozed word. For instance, seemingly easy words may have an irregular use idiomatically that should be seen. Using Spanish because it’s generally easy to translate word-for-word, we have a basic word {da} (he/she/it gives from the verb dar).

Literal Usage:
Este árbol {da} manzanas. >> Este [This] árbol [tree] {da} [gives] manzanas [apples]. >> This tree gives apples.

Idiomatic Usage:
Me {da} igual. >> Me [To Me] {da} [it gives] igual [the same]. >> I don’t care. It doesn’t matter to me. It’s the same to me. Either is fine.

It’s just as important in the second sentence because it’s a verb phrase (dar igual) rather than just the meaning of one word. To not see how “igual” completely changes how that verb works, would be a disadvantage because that idiom frequently appears in the language. But I don’t know how you would combat this unless you personally screened for your sentences or had a database of most common idioms to put into their own category.

–Lastly–

As many users have pointed out, change the points system for multiple choice or text input. Fully knowing that this gamification is just a minor incentive and doesn’t mean squat, I fear that right now the points system is rewarding or incentivizing speed rather than memory/retention. It’s easy to choose the right word for “He ___ her” when the options are “Dog/For/House/Loves” especially if the translation is showing. And people chasing points will blaze through multiple choice without actually having to test their recall ability.

I just did a test of multiple choice with translation showing and got 22 correct per minute. For text input with translation showing I had 8 correct per minute. It’s even more exacerbated when you run into a word you can’t recall properly in text input, because you have to pause and think whereas in multiple choice you can quickly eliminate the wrong options. Plus the chance of making a mistake typing or misspelling the word is way higher, which would cause you to lose potential points.

Basically, there should be multipliers for the difficulty of your settings. Multiple choice is way easier than text input. Having the textbox match the size of the word is easier than not. Having the translation showing is easier than not. Etc.

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Hi Mike, it might be nice to also have a “Review All” or “Random Review” option for the various Most Common groupings. I like having easier sentences mixed in with more difficult ones. Doing a full set of the hardest reviews could get pretty tedious. After struggling through a few difficult ones in a row, it’s a confidence boost to get an easy one and encourages me to keep going.

Love the site - it’s my favourite way to get listening practice where I have a reasonable chance of understanding what’s said! I’m still not good enough to follow most TV / films, but have hopes of getting there one day.

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With very few exceptions, I haven’t found there to be too much repetition in the French Fluency Fast Track. You need quite a bit of repetition to get comfortable with new words, particularly longer ones like “se débrouiller” and “verrouiller”. I really like seeing the same words appear in different contexts.

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Agreed, the Fluency Tracks are fine. But I think Mike was talking about the Most Common Words groupings–which I agree are bloated with repetitive words. Depending on your personality, that could be a good thing but I found it a bit extreme to see a word 15 times. If they were idiomatically different, that would be great. Often that isn’t the case.

I haven’t spent much time yet in the Most Common Words groupings, but now that I think about it, you’re right. Maybe they should be set the same as the Fluency Fast Track.

I agree with your comments about the lack of interaction of the user base. Few people seem to look at this forum.

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Hi, if this comment refers to me, I can only apologise if it appears that I’m monopolising the threads, as this is not my intention. I’m not creating the threads in the forum on purpose. The forum threads are automatically created when I leave myself a note within the app, whilst working the sentences, so unfortunately I don’t have any control over the automatic posting within the forum.

Once again, I can only apologise if this is proving to be a nuisance to other users. Perhaps the developers could tweak the app so that any sentence notes only appear within the forum for the target language and not under ‘Latest Posts’? Or alternatively the automatic posting to the forum of sentence notes could stop entirely?

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No, no, no. Forgive me; that’s not what I meant at all. On the contrary, it’s incredibly refreshing to see people leaving notes and communicating.

What I meant is that I’m really surprised by the lack of “interaction” among our user base. In my mind there are only two reasons for this:

  1. The users here are more introverted than users of other language-learning apps/sites.
  2. The UI of Clozemaster doesn’t facilitate interaction.

I believe it’s mostly #2. Please note this is not meant to be a jab at the wonderful developers and staff at Clozemaster–it is achieving its intended purpose of building vocabulary through context and repetition. And it does a pretty good job at that. It just lacks in promoting discussion–the ability to comment is an after-thought and is not polished as if it were a key feature.

Ideally, I think comments should be integrated into each sentence (meaning they are displayed after submitting your answer, and you have a very quick opportunity to like/heart/thumbs-up or ask questions of other members without ever having to leave your study session). And since Reddit, in my opinion, has the most simple yet effective layout for discussions–that style would probably be optimal. Currently, you have to click the comment button, and a pop-up displays so you can input your comment, then you have to hit close to return to your session–these are two unnecessary clicks to open and close the comment function which only promotes to keep the discussion feature tucked away.

I just think it’s a little strange that if I run into a sentence I either think is wrong or I have questions about… I have to go google and search for discussions on other sites to find an explanation about a piece of grammar or a word’s significance in certain contexts. To me, we should be doing that within the Clozemaster app as a community so these ideas are readily available. It only enhances your learning.

I also think we run into a problem compounded by volume, though this is by design. The more sentences I see, the less I want to comment on a particular word in a particular sentence because I know out of the hundreds of thousands of sentences nobody will stop to take interest.

Just food for thought and ideas for future versions of the app.

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Hi Mike,

Thanks for sharing this and I can understand the reasons for capping the number of times a Cloze word is repeated. If I may, I would like to add a few thoughts to this …

  • My chosen target language is Polish. As you may have seen, I’ve spent many an hour adding numerous sentence notes on the app to help my learning process, as well as hopefully help other users. When purging the sentence database, would it be possible to exclude sentences that have a sentence note ‘attached’ to them?
  • As well as learning the Cloze words in a sentence, I also try to learn any new words (to me) in the sentence as well. If numerous sentences were purged, I’d be concerned about losing touch with associated vocabulary that I’d learnt as a byproduct of a Cloze that had been repeated numerous times. Does every word which appears in any sentence on CM then appear as the Cloze word in another sentence? If so, then this would not be an issue.
  • Connected to my last point, a word may sometimes repeated but it might have a different meaning or nuance in another context, or when used as part of a set phrase, or idiom. A wholesale purge might lose the ‘richness’ and complexity of the target language’s database offering on CM. This may not be a problem for a beginner but it could be for any intermediate or advanced user.

I’m not sure what the best solution would be. The app currently allows the user to exclude sentences themselves and to choose the fast track version if they wish, which cuts out the ‘fat’ of the whole available database, if they so wish. Maybe it is better to allow the user to customise the database themselves, either with the current tools the app has, or enhanced ones?

Thanks!

Allow moderators to more easily resolve reported errors. We really want to focus on improving sentence quality.

Why not appoint some trusted users, who have high proficiency in the relevant languages, as extra volunteer moderators to correct errors? (Not me as I’m not proficient enough, but many others are.) I just did a round of the French Fast Track that had two glaring errors: “boullir” for “bouillir” and “comfortables” for “confortables”. They’ve been corrected on Tatoeba, but are still wrong here. Even I could fix errors that are this clear.

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I suggest @kalzem for a French moderator. He / she is a native speaker who has helpfully responded to the French-specific questions I’ve posted on the forum.

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Haha thanks @kadrian
If indeed there is a moderation feature on sentences, I would gladly like to help for the French language!

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Duolingo demonstrates that there’s huge potential to harness volunteer labour to improve programs like this. The Duolingo French moderators are excellent and they’re all carefully chosen volunteers.

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I think the reason is rather that the forum is only open to paying users, not to everyone. Surely, this is set to make paying for it more attractive but since Clozemaster is certainly a lot smaller than Duolingo for example and a lot younger, the paying community just isn’t that large yet.
Probably, it would help to open up the forum to everyone, or at least some categories/basic functionalities - or a limited number of topic creations per month - to make it more frequently utilised by more users.

And I certainly agree with @Kalzem and @kadrian, we need community moderators (would be happy to support German-learners :))

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I also think the forum should be open to all users. It is just too quiet otherwise, and probably will be for a long time unless something is done differently.

To me, the fact that you get unlimited listening sentences with a paid subscription is enough to make the cost very worthwhile. I cheerfully paid for Clozemaster after using it for three days and usually use the listening function for an hour or more a day. By comparison, I’ve never become a paid user of Duolingo, despite having a 1,398-day streak, since there’s no additional content or functionality for paid users except not having to see ads.

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This is all excellent feedback - thanks!

We are indeed working to add support for moderators. @Kalzem and @dlobok I’ll reach out to you soon if you are indeed interested.

Part of the reason for keeping the forum for Pro users only is to help with quality control.

What do you guys think of making the sentence discussions separate from the forum? In this way we’d have the forum just for discussions like this and other language learning topics. As is I wonder if all the sentence discussion posts drown out post like this.

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Hi Mike, yes, I totally agree with keeping the sentence discussions posts separate. As per my earlier comment, I’d suggest that the sentence notes don’t appear under ‘Latest Posts’ and only appear within the specific forum for the target language, or even not at all, they could just appear against the sentence itself but still allow the moderator access to all sentence comments, for quality control reasons. Cheers

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Does Duolingo have much trouble with quality control given that their discussion forums are open to all users? I’m not aware that they do, but it’s possible that moderators are deleting posts before I see them. Especially if you appoint some community moderators, I don’t see quality control as a big reason to restrict use to paid users only.

I’d be happy to see the sentence discussions moved, but I like being able to easily access the comments on the French sentences, so I wouldn’t like them not to appear at all. I often learn something from the discussion, especially when native speakers clarify things.

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From what I can tell on r/Clozemaster, full of free Reddit users with no link to a Clozemaster account, the worst of it is the occasional meme which can be funneled into a humor/off-topic section.

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