Feedback - some real basic issues that leave me tearing my hair out - maybe I've missed something!?

A couple of things that are driving me up the wall about the apps and website.

  1. when on the ‘community’ side of the website, the logo takes me back to the community home page and NOT the Memrise main course page. That is just wrong! Sorry. And frustrating. Likewise, the menu bar only has community based links. It’s like the two sites are entirely locked out to each other.

  2. I’m studying Finnish. I signed up for 1-year of study. I downloaded some courses via the search function, but now I’ve found that actually Finnish isn’t a supported language in the mobile app. I do have access to the courses I’ve loaded through the web browser. But on mobile now, if I want to add courses, I cannot access them via the search. There is not search. I mean, THERE IS NO SEARCH? wtf??? Memrise is used to study all sorts of things, community generated and there is no way to access those resources via the mobile app??? That is INCREDIBLY frustrating.

  3. Okay, I tell myself to breathe, calm down…I can access them via the web browser and they will show up in my courses. It will be okay. Except that when I go to the website on my mobile browser thinking I’ll be able to access the search there…it redirects every single time to the mobile app!!! WHAAAAAAAT??? THEEEEEE??? FUUUUUUNKK???

  4. So I think I might have to enable the browser to download the desktop version, so I tick the box in my browser menu, but it MAKES NOT DIFFERENCE!!!

  5. So, I have to go to the desktop computer, which thankfully I have, and I can access this stuff there.

These seem like really basic functionality issues about accessing some of the core resources and ‘value’ of the app and website, so to not have access or even to be actively denied any workarounds via the mobile browser seems like a big FCUK U to customers. I mean, I’m a paying customer now. And I paid for one year, so it isn’t just a month’s dilly dally.

I’m disappointed. And frustrated. Software shouldn’t be like this. Denying customers access to the functionality that is carrying some of the absolute core value of the product, the user-generated stuff.

I mean, I find it weird that you have all the Nordic languages except Finnish in your official language apps. You even have Icelandic, spoken by 356,991 people. What have you got against Finland?

Okay, rant over. Curious to see what the community makes of these points.


You’re running into something that needs a little context. You are actually not a customer, but they won’t tell you that. I’ll try to explain what’s going on.

Once upon a time, Memrise saw itself as a platform for community, a place for anyone to create spaced-repeat courses for everyone else to be able to access and learn from. This would give them a wide variety not only of languages, but also other topics - for example, I made a course on identifying tropical fish, and used Memrise to learn geography and bird songs.

Starting in 2015 but really in 2016, Memrise decided that’s not what they wanted to be. Where the money was, they decided, was in being a mobile app for learning the most popular languages. They could not trust the community to make the best courses, and besides, they needed to add lots of fancy language-specific features like Duolingo has, and it would be a lot of work to make those features accessible to user-created courses. The web didn’t matter, only mobile did. Memrise would focus on their new mobile app, make their own courses in the languages with highest demand, add new features that only their courses could use, drop features the community was using that they didn’t think were important for their own mobile courses.

Memrise made changes that literally broke hundreds or more of courses created by users. They refused to fix or reverse them, or even take the time to give user-created courses a way to turn those changes off so they could work again.

Memrise hid features from the mobile app that were fundamental portions of many user-created courses - such as mems (I don’t know if you can now, but for a long time you literally could not see or access them on the app) and text/video levels. But those courses still showed up on the mobile app, so new people would encounter courses missing big important pieces and think those courses sucked or were broken even if they weren’t.

Memrise at first didn’t show mobile users that they had a forum system. Then, they decided to just delete their forums. You won’t see any posts here from before 2016 because this is a new one - they deleted years of posts and comments, discussions about courses, language tips, feature feedback, everything. Just wiped out all that user-created content.

However, instead of saying outright “we don’t care about you, we don’t want you, we hold your contributions and you in contempt”, which was the reality, memrise pretended to still care about the community platform and user-created courses. I think they wanted to believe that they still had that - or maybe some employees at Memrise cared, they just weren’t supported by management. For whatever reason, Memrise kept this hollow shell of the old site limping along, battered and poorly supported.

You appear to have signed up for a bunch of Finnish courses created by Memrise users, what we call community courses. I know there were some very good ones! Because I studied Finnish on Memrise from 2012 until 2016, myself. I would have kept going if they hadn’t ruined the old Memrise.

Remember what I said about presenting community courses on the mobile app in broken ways? Well, they eventually “solved” that by making community courses hard or impossible to find on the mobile all. That’s the problem you’re having. You think they’ve done something wrong that they should fix. They don’t - they don’t care about you and they don’t care about the community and they don’t want community-course people using their shiny popular-language mobile app. They won’t say that because they don’t want you to realize that, but it’s been shown true by their actions over the past five years.

This spring, after seeing some signs on the forum that maybe Memrise wanted to care about the community platform again, I posted these four feature requests to repair the user-created courses they broke (including two courses I spent hundreds of hours making, both of which you shouldn’t take because they don’t work well now):

Go ahead and click the links and look at the response from Memrise.

Yes, I know - there isn’t any.

I posted with hope. I saw several posts on the forum from Memrise talking again about supporting us. They were talking as if they cared and wanted to nurture the community and user-created courses. I thought maybe they had changed their mind since 2016, and decided this was worth supporting again. I had a lot of hope, because I loved Memrise, and a poured a huge amount of time contributing to it, in the past. It would be so exciting if it were back!

So I posted those suggestions, hoping to see at least some informed thoughtful responses, even if they weren’t going to implement everything I asked for. And I even tagged someone from Memrise on each post, someone who was responding to support requests on the forum.

No response at all from anyone from Memrise on any one of my four posts.

So now I invite you to read this post from 2016 instead:

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I’d be interested in the bird songs, if you’d be so kind as to link :joy:

I get what you are saying. There was a time when the internet was awash with startups looking to create ‘platforms’ involving ‘user-generated content’. It was cheaper (producing content in-house is expensive) and it had the potential to be disruptive (think YouTube and Facebook, entirely user-generated content platforms originally).

Sad to see them go the same path as Duolingo, and literally to build in exactly the same fecking limitations too. Memrise is a glorified flash-card program not unsimilar to Anki, but without the tech-orientated UI, but in terms of language learning, it’s not really very sophisticated or orientated to actual learning needs. As a memory trainer, it serves a purpose among many requirements for language learners - learning vocab is one important requirement, but only one. In truth, language learning requires conversation, production and comprehension of native-level language, but most importantly, a bridge that leads towards that level of fluency. Fluent content is inaccessible, in so many ways that technology could actually help with, but language software companies have focused on, sadly, motivation, i.e. trying to make the learning ‘fun’, and to do that, they have included gaming elements. Except they included the wrong fecking elements, like ‘locked levels’. They failed to see one of the most important elements of modern tech - freedom. The very reason that YouTube wins out over traditional TV is because of the freedom to ‘surf’ and find content that serves your needs. And what do they do with language learning? They fecking lock it down. … Big mistake. That many companies keep on making.

But it’s cheaper to do it that way. An ‘open’ environment needs more planning, more investment, before you see a return. And that’s where it becomes a question of risk management, of ‘minimum viable product’ and other such bollocks that gets in the way of a product that would do justice to the unique challenge of learning another language. It’s NOT like learning geography. That’s the problem, or one of them. They don’t understand the challenges, and so they also don’t understand the best solutions.

Thank you for describing the narrative for how Memrise gave up on their original development path in an attempt to monetize as quickly as possible. It makes sense. It’s a failure of imagination, and sadly, for users, who are STILL waiting for software companies to figure out how to make learning a language easier for them, it’s locking us more and more into the wrong solutions.

The story you describe sounds familiar. Breaking existing content and value in the chase for a money-making version of their brand. In fairness, I do agree that the way forward isn’t user-generated content, because of the problems of quality. Too many decks that repeat or don’t really organise their content in a way that would be truly useful for other learners. A lot of content simply copies existing text-book formats, copying the vocab into lists of words to learn. Any learning is better than no learning, but it’s still not optimal. And maybe that’s what Memrise have understood. But still… going the way of Duolingo is not the way. Or trying to stay within the narrow confines of ‘flash-card’ and ‘memory trainer’ is also not really disrupting the industry or helping users find a better utilisation of technology to serve all their language learning needs.

As a pure flash-card platform, they should absolutely focus on making the creation of decks easier - integrated with camera and photo apps, so that people can select items inside an image and create instant ‘flash cards’, with built in reliable translation. That’s the future for pure flashcard software - integrate with other ubiquitous functionality, integrate and exploit to create genuinely NEW functionality. Is that what the industry is doing? Nope. And I’ve been trying in Finland to get companies interested in that approach with little success… no fecking imagination, or vision. It’s not even about risk. Because if you see the vision, you KNOW it’s the future. It fecking speaks to you!

What you said about Memrise hiding functionality, and their recent comments about ‘updating’ their web experience makes me think that the user-generated content is going to be further undermined.

I remember using Memrise about 3 or 4 years ago and finding a LOT of stuff at beginner level, but very little that was useful or well-planned (in terms of contextual features) at intermediate level. At the beginner level, you need some very basic things - diacritics, some verbs, some basic vocab sections (family, counting, nationalities, colours, simple adjectives etc), word order, phonetics. But at intermediate, you need a much more organised type of content that is ‘user-focused’, even if it is not user-generated. You need both more focus AND more freedom, and it’s achieving that that is particularly challenging. But I honestly think the software companies, or the people in charge of them, don’t actually really understand that challenge - of needing more structure and less structure at the same time.

It makes me sad to think of all that time that users put in to creating courses, only to find that changes Memrise made seemed to care nothing for how they would impact user-created content. Poor decisions.

I’m getting into coding and maybe in the next year or so, I might actually be able to consider working on a language learning app that is truly disruptive. If you want, maybe we can chew the fat. Feel free to send me a PM cos. I really appreciated what you wrote and the fact you wrote it. You clearly care, meaning you care about learning languages, or even learning in general. That passion for learning is so crucial if people are really going to combine in order to produce a truly useful learning app.

I totally get what it’s like to be part of a user-generated community only to see that closed down in favour of some misguided notion of where the best possibilities for monetisation lie (e.g. Stylish and Also Todoist.

Your description of what happened is valuable. Your vision of how things could be handled better is valuable. The answer doesn’t lie, IMHO, in entirely user-generated content, but user-activity almost certainly IS part of the solution for the future. The question is how best to include both. And this is where most of the companies have fecked up. They think it’s an either-or choice.

Feel free to PM me. And a BIG thanks for your reply. It was both interesting and informative, even if it was predictable in the way it chronicled the failures of yet another company to shut down user-orientated feedback in favour of a ‘monetised-based’ subscription ‘platform’ solution. Ironic that Memrise started with an almost ‘platform’ type development pathway, and gave up on the platform (and all the disruptive possibilities that came with that) in favour of a traditional ‘course subscription’ type of service. Nothing fecking platformy about that. Just ‘one among the many’.

Your post on the future of Memrise was actually ‘unlisted’ from the forum by Memrise? Really? OMFG. They actually unlisted it? Or am I missing something? Censorship??

Hi @markhelsinki

I’d be interested in the bird songs, if you’d be so kind as to link

Here are two bird song courses I look after


With the old Memrise I loved from 2012-2016, we got around that somewhat because it really was a community platform. Every single course had its own “course forum” - not a single message posted by the course creator that people could comment on, but a forum where everyone could make new posts and everyone could comment on each of them. So in addition to trading recommendations on the main forum areas, you could also just look at any course’s own forum and see if it was active before deciding to start with that course. It also meant people could easily report problems or make suggestions to the course maintainers, and course maintainers could very easily find every such report or suggestion made for their course. It also made it very obvious whether a course was abandoned, or the current owner(s) weren’t fixing problems, and then people could ask to take over and Memrise could give it to new maintainers. People can still do that now, but since a) it’s never that clear whether the maintainer is still active but just hasn’t seen your forum post, and b) most people taking a course aren’t even aware that there should be active discussion between the course maintainer and people taking it, it doesn’t happen very much. And you also can’t come to conclusions based on whether you see post activity about a course, since you know most people aren’t using the forum.

This is why I think restoring per-course forums, linked directly from the courses, is critical to restoring the community courses themselves.

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That sounds cool. However my interest was less in a language-learning app and more in a general purpose platform for spaced-repeat memory decks/courses/whatever on any topic, languages included - fringe languages included as well :slight_smile:

You’re right to point out that language learning involves more than just vocabulary, and as you can see memrise’s roots orient it towards vocabulary learning. However, I found that an extremely useful component in trying to learn a language, because vocabulary happens to be the hardest part to do from things like classes, videos, textbooks, and conversation with native speakers. So for me, learning languages during those years involved combining those things with using memrise to learn vocabulary, and it worked really well! Memrise is also great for learning how to read other alphabets.

I spent 6 months improving my French vocabulary before a trip to France, and that vastly increased how well I was able to take advantage of that week and a half when I was actually there, to improve my language skills to the point of being able to have conversations. I similarly spent about 6 months before a trip to Korea using Memrise to learn hangeul first, and then to learn a bunch of common vocabulary and simple phrases, which also gave me a lot of practice reading hangeul fluently. Then when I was actually there, I was able to understand some signs, remember place names and find them, and ask people for basic things, as well as pick up a few more words.

Some people found a way to use the Memrise memory-training system to effectively build courses that actually teach you some grammar and conversational bits. I was inspired by a really great Arabic course from those days, to start building my Hebrew course:

I wouldn’t recommend taking it; their changes to how commas and parentheses work broke the course so that a lot of the answers you need to give are hard to remember and not logical now, and I never had the heart to take the time to fix it all, not knowing if they’d just break things again and not care. I’m still hoping maybe someday they’ll restore the old community platform and repair these courses and I can continue work on that course. But do take a look at it, level by level, to see how a memrise course can go beyond vocabulary. Do it on the web, not mobile! Multimedia levels (both text levels, and video embeds) are an important part of it and I believe the mobile app still omits them, doesn’t it? Although even on web, they changed how they render some text formatting, so some of my text levels will seem to have missing pieces or other weird flaws - that’s something they broke, too.

But it’s not just languages! This is probably the course I spent the most time building:

(I would also avoid taking that; it’s broken in several ways, including the change to how commas are interpreted, but also because memrise now lets you scroll through all the photos when you are being quizzed, whereas the entire point of this course was to ensure you would be quizzed on each individual photo, at random.)

Here is the bird songs course I took:

There were also some nice geography courses, like this:

So, a “language learning app” isn’t really what I’m looking for. As you said, there are many of those already - if what you’re looking for is French or Japanese or Russian or Spanish. I’m looking for Finnish and Hawaiian and Haitian Creole and other less-demanded languages. But I’m most looking for a platform that lets everyone create and share spaced-repeat courses on any topic they know, with flexible features that people can adapt in creative ways, and that lets us all communicate easily with people taking the same courses, and with people creating them. I want user-created mems (and better ways to curate them), text + video + audio, course forums… all of what Memrise was and especially where it seemed to be heading towards, before they changed their minds and dropped all of us, with contempt for the countless hours many of us had spent building on the old Memrise.

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@Mark-the-Lark, A lot of the things you said above (PS now removed) were helpful, but good of you to avoid any appearance of criticism.