Morgana wrote:To me, people who learn languages for years and years and go in-depth with them are not Memrise’s target market. There is more money to be made from absolute beginners, from people who don’t know how to or otherwise don’t want to bother with the effort of curating one’s own deck, etc. etc. etc. There’s nothing wrong with either type of learner. What I see Memrise doing is simplifying their product (ie. removing options and quality-controlling the ones that remain) to attract more customers.
You're absolutely right that there is nothing wrong with either type of learner. However, it sucks that we are being punished all the time for actually being successful.
The worst is it for the intermediate learners for the languages with a bit less resources. Those obviously don't interest anyone at all.
The intermediate phase is a lot about vocabulary and has the fewest resources (in between the tons of stuff for the beginners and the tons of stuff for the natives). Memrise was one of the valuable steps in between, thanks to the user made decks.
Do you know what it’s like to want to start a language, and have no experience at it, and you just want to learn some phrases and feel like you’re doing well? You don’t want to log in and stare down hundreds of courses with varying quality and not have a clue what’s appropriate for you. Memrise official courses give you basic words and phrases with professionally recorded audio (and sometimes video) and a clear progression all the while never overwhelming you with thousands of words left in a single deck still to be learned. It’s great for someone who has no idea what they’re doing or otherwise isn’t interested in sweating the details. It’s appealing. It’s appealing to me even.
This is the problem, the bolded part. Products targetting purely beginners very often make people fell that they are progressing, without much attention to the real progress.
I would agree about a lot of this, if the official courses were of excellent quality, superior to the user made courses' average. They are not.
Yesterday, I was looking at the French course, counting the words, that is the first thing that is inferior (and an important one.
It doesn't look professional, when the seven courses are of very uneven length (the longest is almost four times as long as the shortest one), their individual levels have chaotic content, the levels are numbered almost like the Star Wars movies (like 1,3,5,6,7,8,9,10), and there is no clear structure or guideline. Using the levels to make the courses better organised (which Memrise came with against the user feedback, because they believed in them) and making the courses formally perfect would be the least one would expect from the professionals behind them.
Memrise could have cooperated with the real course publishers and offered (perhaps paid, which I'd gladly buy) high quality decks with the real coursebooks' vocabulary and/or phrases. That would have been a great product with clear progress, clear goals, and on a better SRS platform than those coursebook publishers trying stuff like this could ever hope to create. Instead, they've employed some second rate course makers, who have put together a chaotic mix of words and a few phrases.
There are a few phrases among the words, so the learner is not being told that they need a real course and not just Memrise. But there are just a few of those phrases, so Memrise cannot work based on those either. Actually, if Memrise made the courses like AJATT suggests (10000 sentences), it would be a great product.
Really, I don't think they are trying to make a great product for the beginners, that would be good. It looks like they are instead trying to get rid of the competition of their own users.
It is possible, that Memrise is trying to evolve into a different kind of product, as some of their paid parts seem to be focusing on grammar, on listening, and so on. Perhaps that is the real product, that is being prepared. And perhaps, it will be great and I guess we'll all wish both the product and its newbie users a lot of success! But right now, the official courses are not such a great product.
That said I haven’t used Memrise since I first started with Swedish and prefer to make my own more-meaningful-to-me decks with Anki. But I am not their target market. Somewhere else at some other time, someone else said not to rely on companies to keep your stuff safe for you. I think it was in the context of cloud drives or streaming. This is the same thing. Online subscription-based “products” are always subject to the company’s whims. I’m not surprised or disappointed, but I also do not blame any paying customers for requesting refunds, since the product is changing considerably from what those customers paid for. For free users... well... go with the flow or look into a service that lets you control your decks.
You're absolutely right. That's we need to always do our backups of anything we don't want to lose.
But the fact that the paid users are still subject to the company's whims is wrong. The user pays for a longer period of time and/or promises to keep paying for a period of time. The service provider doesn't promise they won't turn their site into a collection of cat videos during that period of time (that is an extreme example, but not by that far). And it is exactly the reason, for which I never considered paying for Memrise. The price wouldn't be that high to pay for a few months, if the Pro functions were really good (and paying might actually be healthy for me and make me use Memrise very intensely for a few months and progress greatly). But the company had proven various times, that it was not reliable.
Yes, the Free users are on our own, and that is ok.
aokoye wrote:It's clear advanced learners aren't one of their future target users, but I would that they were for the majority of Memrise's existence. Another market that they're going to miss are people taking courses that use any sort of word list, especially those from a textbook. Now the only viable online solution is Quizlet (who I'm sure is thrilled).
That said, I've always figured that something similar to this would end up happening to them. It's been the one major con in my eyes.
I find it weird, that a company like Memrise doesn't find the second large market, the more experienced learners, tempting too. They've already built a userbase, they've taught their users to contribute themselves. This second market is not as big as the first one, but still big enough and without many competitors fighting over us. All that Memrise would have to do would be showing they do care and that they are reliable. Because that's what the dedicated learners want, we have already decided to spend years on language learning. Then they'd just give the users the second app with offline use and that would be it.