An Open Letter


(Crazy Dave2345) #1

Dear anyone who may be reading,

I don’t like how no user input was gathered before this was announced. Especially no input from course creators.

I haven’t seen Memrise add many new features that actually help with mastery lately. Instead I see more social media marketing and more weird business tactics, all while the “language experts” department is moving slowly. Memrise needs language experts who can prototype new features alongside programmers.

Memrise is taking the strategy Duolingo took. But what Memrise needs to do isn’t pay attention to the competition, but rather to develop itself.

I suppose Memrise wants Decks to be successful semi-independent platform or a learning supplement or lead generator to Memrise. You, Memrise Inc, need us course creators. We are MORE THAN COWS.

Decks is going to be better than Duolingo’s Tinycards at first thanks to the hard work of course creators. Decks needs course creators and course creators need Decks. We need each other. But Decks needs us to survive, whereas course creators

Overall, Decks is a poorly executed business decision, and indicative of Memrise’s poor business strategy. Again 1), language experts and programmers need to work together 1-on-1 or in small groups to create a good language app and 2) Memrise pays too much attention to competition and marketing, and too little to actually improving the product.

Memrise needs course creators.

Sincerely,

A disappointed course creator


Important Update: Upcoming changes to Memrise community-created courses
(Houssam Alissaed) #2

Great letter, agree 100%. Get involved: Angry about the Decks update? Make your voices heard


(Olaf Rabbachin) #3

I agree as well.

What they don’t see is that course creators are not only their cash cow but also their greatest multiplier - and what’s best - we do it absolutely for free!
Either the management clearly doesn’t know what they’re doing or there’s something in the makes that requires this “rectification” (AKA self-destructive behavour).


(Crazy Dave2345) #4

P.S. If one wants to actually learn a language and use it in the country they’re visiting, one can use the official courses to learn the framework of the lag use, but one needs user-created vocabulary for the specific task or place one is going to. One more reason user created courses are an essential part of the Memrise user experience.

As new technology and cultural phenomena arrive in countries around the world, existing user created courses will become outdated. Memrise is leaving itself behind, Memrise is digging itself into a hole.

Memrise doesn’t have the resources or geographic reach to continue to update the user created courses.


(Neko Chan) #5

I just wanted to add, that it is not entirely true, that no course creators were asked about their opinion or input. I don’t know, how many people were asked or how they even decided, who should be asked, but there were some, for whatever that is worth.


(khx333) #6

Yes, we have a company where people create content for free and they terminate that support. It’s always fascinating to see how young companies don’t understand the new web economy.


(khx333) #7

Yes I know “Decks” is the solution but I’ve yet to see a good Web app for iOS/Android that scales. Or how long that ‘free’ service is around. We don’t have a good track record of other changes that has happened here. Or how the paid mobile apps still are full of bugs.


(Crazy Dave2345) #8

I received a reply from Ed Cooke,

Hey James

Sorry you’re disappointed- though hopefully you’ll find that decks much better serves the needs of course creators.

We’re making this move mainly so we really can bring our language experts and programmers closer together (we’re very slowed right now).

Do check Decks out, we’re very open to dialogue on this topic.

It’s also worth mentioning that Decks may impress and please you- we’re making it for you course creators.

But apologies again for any distress caused.

Warm regards,

Ed


(Crazy Dave2345) #9

My reply:

Dear Ed,

Thank you for the reply. I am starting to like this Decks idea now that you describe it in positive terms.

I agree that Memrise needs more coordination between language experts and programmers. On the other hand, I hope you realize the business opportunities of somehow adding user-created courses to your mobile app. I also hope you realize that a separate internal computer system can be created for user-created courses without having to formally separate user-created and memrise official courses under different brands. (The Memrise Official and User-created courses can run on different client code and different servers without having to be under separate brands, allowing Memrise Official to move quickly while user-created courses are still operable.)

Have you considered adding user-created courses to the app? I think with a well tested discovery algorithm, one beta-screened with the course creator community, Memrise could see a new rise in popularity.

> For many users, the community and user-created content is Memrise’s USP - what differentiates it and makes it unique in a saturated market of language apps. Its proprietary courses work for some, but are of pedestrian quality, limited value, cover limited languages, and have a very low ceiling in terms of learner level. The ability to create custom courses, advanced courses, and courses for niche-languages are what makes Memrise amazing to us. And we as the user base are creating the content free of charge! You’re welcome, Memrise!

Many learners use memrise official courses to get a basic hold of the language and use user created ones to master it.

Indeed I think Memrise’s best course of action is not to set aside the community, but to integrate the community . I think it would be a great business decision and lead to better monetization. Think of, “Learn Lingala and visit Africa” programs. The reason the bulk of user-created course learning occurs on desktop is because mobile does not showcase or even suggest the presence of user-created courses.

Good Luck,

James

P.S.
> Since we focused Memrise on language learning in 2014, the vast majority of our growth and innovation has come from and within the language courses that we develop ourselves.

This is because your own courses are the only ones that people sign up for on your mobile apps. And mobile is a more popular platform than desktop these days. I’m willing to bet few of your mobile users are aware Memrise has user-created courses. Yes, they could discover user-created courses, but few people realize that that’s an option.

> In a sense, we have been maintaining two quite different products in one to the disadvantage of both. And so we have decided to give each its rightful space.

Both products deserve to be implemented as two parts of the same app. This would be best for your official-course-users, who may need context-specific vocabulary for the task or mission they’re embarking on with the language or a tool to rehearse phone numbers

Memrise should experiment with various ways of showing user-created courses to mobile app users.

Memrise can’t document the world of language fully without us, the community. Memrise does not and will never have the resources to document the diverse experiences from the gay slang of North America to the workplace lingo of Spain to the proverbs and sayings of the kibbutz. We can help you with your new efforts, whether it be video-based or dialogue-based.

I personally would like to see Memrise pair up Spanish-speakers learning English and English speakers learning Spanish to converse and try to have a dialogue under some kind of game or time pressure. And as experienced polyglots and languages learners, we can help you do that without expensive UX research.


(Relliot2) #10

But there won’t be an app or offline mode?
His response seems meaningless.


(Ian) #11

Hi @edcooke, I’m a contributor to a community intermediate Spanish course* that lists 85,777 all-time users (which puts the course in 5th place in Spanish course popularity, behind four fairly basic Memrise official Spanish courses).

And I see that so far during February this course has had more than 4000 active users.

I’m guessing that many of the course’s current users are paying members who may be disappointed and may cancel subscriptions if the app option is discontinued. I thought I should flag this up as a possible business issue that might be worth considering.

  • Ian.

*https://www.memrise.com/course/193647/aqa-gcse-spanish-vocabulary-10/
*https://www.memrise.com/courses/english/spanish-spain/


(Houssam Alissaed) #12

His response was useless. More warm corporate words that ultimately amount to “f you, not listening, not changing my mind, don’t care.”


(Ian) #13

I haven’t seen any response to my comments yet (but it’s still the weekend). My comments were simple suggestions so I don’t necessarily expect a reply. You may be overreacting, I think.


(Houssam Alissaed) #14

Sorry i was talking about reply to OP


(Ian) #15

No problem - thanks for letting me know.