Repair the community courses, 4: Course forums

[Several years ago, in their leap to mobile and memrise-sponsored language courses, Memrise made a series of changes that completely broke many, perhaps even most, of the community courses. Many course creators spent hundreds of hours of their own time building and supporting those courses. In the hopes that Memrise might decide to care about about a platform for community courses again, I’m going to post some feedback here about the biggest categories of breakage they could fix. This post is part of that series. If Memrise takes these posts seriously, and responds seriously, that could be an indication that they care about this again.]

Background:

One of the key features of the old Memrise, the thing that really made the community platform work and encouraged people to invest their time building courses for it, was the course forums.

Every course had its own forum:

  • You could post questions or requests for the course maintainer.
  • The course maintainer could sign up for notifications of any new posts.
  • Each post had its own title and comments, so you could look through the list of old discussions.
  • People could post tips for other people taking the course, that would be easy to find, or answer each other’s questions.
  • EACH COURSE LINKED TO ITS FORUM so that EVERYONE TAKING THE COURSE KNEW IT WAS THERE!!!
  • A course creator could expect that the users of their course would find the forum, so they had incentive to follow it.
  • When choosing whether to take one course or another, you could look at their respective forums to see how active they were, to see whether the maintainer was active, to see what the user community of that course was like.
  • By facilitating communication between users and between users and maintainers, it also made it easier to find people to take over a course someone else had abandoned.

When Memrise launched mobile, they did not give mobile app users any indication the forums even existed. When questioned about this, Memrise gave really inane answers, like “our focus is mobile, and the forums are on the web”. Well, okay, but won’t mobile users want to know these forums are here, and participate in them, to get support for their use of the mobile app? Memrise never answered that.

Eventually, they just got rid of the whole forum portion of memrise.com entirely, explaining their decision with the same nonsensical reasoning, and instead had us all move over to this new community site - which does not have course forums. Instead, they encouraged course creators to create one post for their course. Which a) is nearly useless compared to a forum, and b) users wouldn’t know to look for, anyway. This more was probably the biggest single blow to the community platform.

What Memrise should do:

Since Memrise is unlikely to ever consider community important enough to actually add their own discussion feature to courses (even though duolingo has it!), here’s a shortcut they can take:

  • Set up a topic tree here on the community site for the courses, so that each course could fit into a subtopic - even if it’s not a language course.
  • When a new course is created, create a subtopic just for that course - a third-level topic in the main tree here. Or, if that’s too hard, then give course creators the permissions to create their own subtopics and just tell them where to do it.
  • Include a link, right from the course’s page on memrise.com, to the subtopic for that course. If the naming scheme is standardized, this link could be automatic. If it’s not, or if creators create their own subtopics, make the link optional - but allow it to be configured right in the course settings, and clearly visible to all users. The link should take you to the subtopic where you could immediately see a list of all the posts about that course.
  • Add that same link on both web and mobile! Mobile users deserve to know where to find discussions for the course they’re taking, not just web users.

@MemriseSupport @JBorrego

3 Likes

I do think the Forum area and in particular the existence of [Course Forums] could be made more prominent (or advertised occasionally in a news letter), especially for App users.

I did initially ask if space (a field) could be allocated to insert our own link to the [Course Forum].

The way I (and many others) have overcome this issue is to put a note in the short description (which is seen on the App view of the course) drawing people’s attention to the web interface if they want more information (eg from Multimedia levels) or if they want support.

Then on the full web description I indicate the existence of a forum, or if space allows, an address (not an active link of course).

2 Likes

I would not want any topics to be automatically created but I would like to have a field where I could add a link to a topic on the course that I manually create here in the forum.

cos. I wholeheartedly agree with you in all your four posts. I highly appreciate your contribution to this community and find 95% of the decisions taken by memrise in the past 5 years of extremely poor quality.
Thank you for still taking the time to try and make this place better, like it was before.

2 Likes

It is interesting to look back at this early forum thread from May 2016.

[Site Feedback] There Is No Point in a New Forum Unless It Is Promoted

2 Likes

I don’t believe you can create a topic for a course now. You can create an individual post, sure, that that’s only marginally useful. What we need is the ability to have a full subtopic for each course. Like this “General Discussion” topic, and like we have a subtopic for each language now - we should at least be able to have subtopics for specific courses, and link to them. Such a link would show you all the posts in that subtopic - which could be any number of posts, each with their own title, originating user, and comment threads.

I personally prefer the current forum with the course topics over the old individual course forums.

the old fora were simply perfect, an easy, lean solution, a link present on each and every page of learning/reviewing items of respective course. It was enormous setback to take that out…

2 Likes