Open Letter to Memrise re: Decks

Memrise just announced “Decks” and are moving content created courses and flashcard decks to a different website. So you will only be able to use their Memrise created content on their App.

Yes, I’m rather put out by this.

See the announcement here.

 

Open Letter to Memrise re: Decks

Dear Ed,

Thank you very much for the explanation of Memrise’s decisions for the recently announced change to Decks.

I have been an active user and creator on Memrise since 2014.
I feel in love with Memrise because it was a great user-friendly gamified alternative to Anki. (Which I found to be very user un-friendly.)

I noticed there was a gap in the way of Japanese courses on Memrise and have since built 31 courses for beginner to advanced learners, covering vocabulary, kanji and grammar. Which I’m proud to say has helped tens of thousands of users learn Japanese. (This was all a labor of love!)

Memrise has, at least in my eyes and the eyes of people I know who use Memrise (many I recommended the site to), made some questionable choices in the past.

 

1. The poor level up system:

Anyone who play games or works with games knows that leveling up is a gradual curve. The choice to double the leveling up score every time means players level up quickly at first, then get stuck. I’ve been level 15 for 2-3 years now!

It loses all gamification, reduces motivation, and doesn’t help draw users back.

 

2. Getting rid of badges:

(See above.) People were drawn to Memrise for it’s gamification. Badges and medals were easy ways to provide short term goals and long-term achievements. People were proud of their badges for number of days learned, and you got rid of that.

 

3. The space theme and alien mascot:

I loved the plant idea of growth and couldn’t understand the change to space or the strange alien mascot, which I can only assume was expensive (sorry about that).

The majority of people who use Memrise for several years are adult learners, but it felt like you were aiming the site only at children? (Just saying the neutral plant idea was perfect. Not too cold, not too cheesy.)

 

4. Removal of search function on the App:

I used to be able to look for a variety of courses on my app, but you changed it so users could only find Memrise made courses. So OF COURSE the majority of app users aren’t using community created courses, most probably DON’T KNOW they exist because they never explore on the website.

The website is also bias towards Memrise courses, ignoring a lot of great user-created content built for other users.

 

5. Memrise course for Japanese is REALLY bad:

I can only speak from the perspective of Japanese but over my years teaching and creating content for Japanese learners I’ve noticed everyone is different and learns for different reasons. (The majority of people use Memrise to help them with exams.)

I’ve noticed three major failings with your Japanese Memrise courses:
1. They’re TOO difficult for beginners and introduce kanji way too soon.
2. They’re not well balanced for enjoyment or goal achieving.
3. They’re aimed for people visiting Japan, which cuts out a lot of people studying for the sake of studying, or wanting to pass the JLPT exam.

 

Bonus:

It’s incredibly unfair to force users to join Memrise’s language courses when they say they’re learning a language. It cuts off many user-created content. And as I said, the Japanese course is hard, meaning most beginners are put off ever learning Japanese and using Memrise because that’s their first experience of it.

 

I feel like Memrise is trying to complete with sites like Duelingo, when users were really drawn to it for the ability to make their own SRS flashcard decks (which other language learning sites/apps don’t offer!).

You have something great and you’re throwing it away!

 

I have to say I’m disappointed. I’ve been disappointed in the above decisions but the choice to move might be the last straw. I really don’t want to, but I feel like I might have to export all my content to Anki just in case. This is very frustrating when I personally have an exam I’m working towards in July. I don’t know if Decks will be as good and I use the app to review my studies.

I don’t know if you read this, but I am open for dialogue.
I would be happy to discuss your choices and even more so to re-design your Japanese decks should you really wish for users to effectively learn the language.

Kind regards,
Jennifer (aka Memrise user Niffer / jtalkonline.com)

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