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Hello. My name is Henry P. Twolingos and I am the CEO of Duolingo, and I’m here to discuss Duolingo’s questionable push notifications.

I understand that learning a language on your own can be difficult, and requires various forms of support from outside sources in order to achieve your goal. That’s why we at Duolingo stand by our decision to make our push notifications passive aggressive. Because if our passive aggressive push notifications don’t make you learn French, then I don’t know what will, so really, we’re all you have.

Do you remember in high school when your mom would say “I think your legs looked better when you were running track,” or “I think your arms looked better when you were running track”? Didn’t that make you try out for another season of track though it contributed to your personal struggle with self-esteem? Maybe that was just my mom, but hey, now my legs look fantastic. And just as my legs look fantastic, so your brains can SPEAK fantastically.

You get it.

We have tried everything. At first, our notifications were nice. Something like, “Hey! Friendly reminder to practice French today!” With these notifications, statistics showed that we users dropped after about one week. In order to ramp it up, we tried mean notifications, which included messages such as, “Hey dickhead, why don’t you get off your lazy ass and do your goddamn French lesson?” In hindsight, we could have used less bad language, and users began dropping after an average of one day.

But then, we thought of passive aggressive notifications: a reasonable balance between nice and mean that reminds you to practice French with a subtle dig to your psyche that makes you feel like you’re spiting us by completing a lesson. Now users last an average of three weeks, and after that, the data shows that we can’t save them.

Bottom line is, subtly insulting you into learning a language on your own is the best we got, so cut us some slack.

Passive aggressive notifications work particularly well when users aren’t responding to our daily reminders. When this happens, we send a passive aggressive alert that we will no longer be sending passive aggressive notifications. What could be more passive aggressive than that?

Image: slauer Shelby

I remember the days when mankind worked diligently to accomplish things. Is it the advance of technology that has doomed citizens? That by having so much knowledge at the touch of a button, you never feel the need to truly learn things? Why can’t you people just finish something you started?

I guess what I’m saying is, if you really wanted or needed to learn a language, you would learn it yourself.

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