The Babbel Blog

language learning in the digital age

New Features on Babbel.com, Part 1: DIY Anti-Spam and Anti-Typo

Posted on October 10, 2012 by

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A fair bit of time has passed since the upheaval of Dust and Dirt and Candlelight, and although the heavier particles have now settled, there is still a good amount of dust in circulation. There have been quite a few changes recently, of which many users are probably still blissfully unaware, despite notification via the Babbel board. This Features Series hopes to shed a bit of light on the darker corners of the Babbel universe.

Every day in the Support Team we get to read the general wishes of our users as well as new and helpful suggestions for improvement. Often these make complete sense and we are equally excited about their implementation as you are, and equally disappointed when our heroic programmers don’t have these assignments completed and on our desks by yesterday. On the other hand, we are witness to the herculean efforts of our developers and editorial team, and we see great things happening, which we wish were there for all to see. So with this in mind I shall, together with Aishah, be keeping you informed of new Features on Babbel.

Lazy Spammers

First of all we want to show you what you yourselves can do to join the fight against Spam and Harassment. Alongside the active use of the ‘Report’ function in the Messages section and with Friend Requests, as well as the ‘Report as offending’ function in Chat, you can do the following:

Under Profile > Settings there are two options with regard to receiving messages within Babbel. If you check both the boxes by ‘Babbel Messages’ you can assert that 1) only people who are your friends can send you messages and 2) only users with at least 100 Babbel points can send you friend requests. So you now have the great advantage of being able to specify that only users who are active beyond just the Community functions can be your friends. In general Spammers can’t be bothered to do any real work or learning. So only when these requirements are fulfilled can someone qualify as your friend and only then may they write to you.

Most Wanted Feature Request 

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Interestingly this simple but ingenious idea was suggested to us by one of our dedicated users. Proof if you need it that we are actually listening to and acting on your suggestions. Nevertheless we should also mention that some suggestions do not always fit in with the wishes of other users, and are even sometimes in direct contradiction. However there was one request where our users were unanimous and that was our ‘Most Wanted Feature Request’. This one wish, which has been by far the most frequently and also most vehemently requested, was that simple typing errors should not be counted as mistakes; that there absolutely must be a possibility to confirm that the word you had entered was the one you had intended to write.

Of course such a simple idea does not necessarily mean an equally simple task when it comes to the programming. However, when our developer Trond finally presented us with an immediately usable solution, it was a time for celebration here at Babbel.

So how do you do it? Simply log into Babbel and copy this link into the address bar of your browser, then press Enter: http://www.babbel.com/go/confirm-by-enter

And if you decide you don’t want it anymore, simply do the same but use this link: http://www.babbel.com/go/no-confirm-by-enter

Why are we not simply building it in as standard? Well, we are actually. First of all we wanted to give you the choice, but it has already proved so popular that it is now standard in the new Review Manager.

Stay tuned. In the next installment we will be telling you all about the star wars and heart aches!

 

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Comments

The new function ‘confirm-by-enter’ has the disadvantage that one has to type the word precisely before confirming it with ‘Enter’. In other words, one has to use accents (e.g. á), circumflexes (ê), tildes (ñ, ã), cedille (ç) etc. – if they exist – when repeating and learning the lessons.

This is exactly what I don’t like about the new function because it slows down the process of learning very much. The old method of typing only the ‘basic’ letters and Babbel writes them correctly with e.g. an accent, cedille etc. is fast, elegant and comfortable.

And necessary for many people. Why is it necessary? Because not every keyboard support special characters from foreign languages. For example, for me as a native German speaker it is nearly impossible to type a cedille (ç) or tilde (ã) on my German notebook keyboard. The same is valid for e.g. a Portugese who wants to learn German and has to type ‘ä,ö,ü’.

Of course you are right: If I type the wrong letter it is counted imediately as a mistake. But nevertheless this is much, much faster than the new proposed method where I have to care about the very exact writing of the words with accents and where I have to learn to switch my keyboard settings to other languages. I could learn to switch my keyboard, but many other people won’t learn it.

Therefore it would be nice to keep the old settings as a standard. Everybody who wants to learn fast and comfortable will appreciate this idea and this is what distinguish Babbel from other language learning portals.

Thorsten

Hey Thorsten, like I said (on the German blog): It would be interesting for us to know where exactly the system requires you to actually type the accents etc. As this isn’t supposed to be like this. We completely agree with you on not having to type the accents. Confirm-by-enter doesn’t (or shouldn’t) mess with this at all.
In the new, better version of the review manager accents won’t be required either – at the same time it will accept more special characters. You can sneak a peek here: http://www.babbel.com/review
Just copy the link in your browser when logged into Babbel and press Enter.

If you have questions or comments on the new review manager please don’t hesitate to let us know.
Kind regards,
Aishah

As one of the early requestors on this, I have been using it since it was first made available, and I can confirm that you don’t have to enter the special characters Acute Graves etc. Howvever isn’t it part of the learning process that you should use the correct acccents on each letter to be totally correct with the language. I beleive it is as important to have the correct spelling as pronunciation.

Keep up the great work babbel team!

Ian

Hi Ian,
Thanks for your comment! You are right. We show the accents in the trainer but it is much more convenient if you can type them as simple a, i, o and so on.
However, you can also click on the displayed accents with your mouse if you prefer :)

Best,
Marvin

What I also don’t like in the new method “confirm with enter” is that errors are not immediately displayed during typing.

This is really great in the ‘old’ method without ‘enter’: When I make an error I get _immediately_ an error feedback. To reach the ‘end’ of a word without seeing any “red error” motivates very much. It’s nearly the same to be corrected by a teacher when talking in a foreign language when you make the first error in a sentence.

This feature is for me one of the best features and it makes the difference between Babbel and other (offline) vocabulary trainers.

Of course I understand the advantages of the new “enter” method, i.e. no typing mistakes anymore and you get the chance to correct yourself. But at the end the old method is better: you are forced to make no mistake from the beginning until the end. You have no second chance just to write a word false first, to have a look on it and then to correct your error. Of course it’s much harder to be 100% correct. But this hard training is better for the result: To be able to write something without errors in the first try.

Thorsten

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