Does anyone really like the hints provided by Clozemaster?

Would you miss them if they were removed, but you could still add your own? (hints are shown in the little tooltip/bubble above the cloze before answering)

Trying to determine a good rule of thumb for when to add hints and what sort of hints should be added as we moderate sentences is difficult. The original idea was to have a way to provide some help for ambiguous clozes, but too much of a hint and it takes away from the challenge of the sentence, and they can still be annoying even with an ambiguous cloze.

So we’re considering experimenting with removing the Clozemaster hints, only allowing personal hints to be added/shown, and still showing notes after answering. Curious to hear what you think!

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No, I wouldn’t miss them as long as I could add my own. Thanks for asking.

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Hi @mike I don’t seem to have the little tooltip/bubble (web version) on a regular basis unless it’s something I haven’t turned on :wink: so I probably wouldn’t miss them.

I’d rather have the challenge anyway than be helped across the finishing line.

Thanks for asking us. Stay cool!

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I wouldn’t miss them. Too often they make things too easy… and I think I learn more from making mistakes!

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It’s a no from me as well (to the question of whether they’d be missed, I emphasise), though I have no problem with them being there.

I’m usually either speaking or listening so I rarely see them before answering, BUT… the ability to add our own would remain important to me, especially in speaking. If there are multiple words that could be valid I can sometimes tell which word it is from the length (since I use variable length fields), but when words have similar length and similar meaning (like Wie {{geht}} es and Wie {{läuft}} es in German, for example) I don’t gain anything by going through all of the possibilities so I’ll stick a hint of “g” or “l” (in this case) rather than wasting time.

So, if Clozemaster ones go, I’m not fussed, if personal ones were removed, I’d be bothered a bit.

In answer to the title of the thread, rather than the body, though; I do LIKE them well enough. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a bad or pointless one.

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My answer is no; I wouldn’t miss them. That is based mainly on my experiences with Spanish and Italian from English.

That said, I think such hints could be useful for newcomers, but only if added in a consistent manner. If we take the example of Spanish, the English you can have six different translations (, vos, usted, vosotros, vosotras, and ustedes), with five different verb conjugations. It would be very helpful if automatic hints were provided using this pattern, but that is unfortunately not the case.

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Same for me with Hindi, but it’s not only needed for newcomers. Many sentences have multiple copies where the only difference is minor differences in the Cloze word for male, female, male plural. Often there’s no way to tell from the English which to use. (“You are here.” Which gender/number do I use?) Same problem with the multiple translations of “her”, “we”, etc.

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More often than not, they don’t relate to the cloze word, but to some other part of the sentence. When they do relate, there’s already something in the sentence that has already told me that. I dislike them so much, I’ve complained twice. I’ve been adding my own hints when the gender/number could go either way or when the “you” can be formal, informal or plural, but only when there is nothing in the sentence or translation that would dictate what to choose. Their hints are just annoyances.

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When I mentioned newcomers, I was thinking that people new to the site are not familiar with typing hints and don’t know about adding personal hints. I often see posts from new users asking why a perfectly valid answer is deemed wrong, just because they guessed wrong about how to interpret the English you in sentence. I can only hope they don’t give up.

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@mike Can you clarify what’s the purpose of your question? I think the central question is so vague that this discussion is not productive for two reasons:

  1. The content quality of ready-made hints and the technical functionality of hints should be separately discussed.
  2. This forum cannot represent the voices of the vast silent majority (i.e. non-PRO subscribers).

I think we including non-subscribers simply need a setting option to show/hide ready-made hints. You don’t need to remove them. Whether ready-made hints are too easy or not - or helpful or not - totally depends on each user and on each language course.

As for Point 1, we recently had a similar heated debate on the new Wiktionary popup feature. Many people including me described there that Wiktionary is not the best choice for them and the auto popup feature was merely annoying. But I believe most of them would love the embedded dictionary in the popup if its content quality was satisfactory. The ready-made hints might be the same case as Wiktionary. The content quality of hints is the problem.

English learners would appreciate it very much if Clozemaster would give a hint like this cloze-word is in “British English” or “American English”. The same issue about the spelling variation was raised by several Japanese learners here as well. And @amirkarger pointed out the same issue in Hindi. These can be standardized as “tagging” by using the hint field. I saw many Duolingo users complained about poor handling of variations, so giving such tagging-ish hints would be critical to improve the user loyalty of Clozemaster.

As for Point 2, removing ready-made hints means non-PRO subscribers will not be able to use hints at all. The change would definitely hit harder on non-subscribers than on subscribers regularly participating in forum discussions here. I think customizing hints is one of the good reasons to subscribe PRO. Removing ready-made hints may result in losing a promotion channel of PRO features. In that sense, I guess @morbrorper uses the term “newcomer” in the same (or similar) way.


EDIT: the first paragraph starting with “can YOU” was meant to be addressed to Mike, not other users. I inserted the ping later.

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I’m fine with that. The service costs a measly 8 bucks per month or 60 whole bucks per year. That’s a pittance compared to the value that people can get from it. Sure, there will be people who genuinely can’t afford that, but would they be the majority of non-paying members? Would they even be a significant minority?

The ones who CAN afford to pay, but don’t, are often just sponging off those of us who DO put our hands in our pockets to keep the site both running and improving. It may be that they’ve imbibed to excess the idea that “information wants to be free”. (Which is really just a euphemism for “I want to be paid for the work that I do, I just don’t want to have to pay anyone else.”)

If I chose to use a web service for free, I wouldn’t expect my say to count equally with the people who are actually paying to help cover the costs of the service. I don’t believe that non-pro users should here either.

I don’t pretend to speak for Mike but I think the problem is that the hints are of extremely variable quality and usefulness. Since they aren’t consistent, that could be a source of frustration rather than benefit. I’m inclined to agree with morbrorper that they would be useful…

I don’t know how many sentences there are on Clozemaster but it would be more likely a 7 or more figure number than a 6 figure one. Trying to achieve that level of consistency would take pretty massive resources.

(EDIT: Yes, it’s blindingly obvious who “YOU” in the previous post was referring to, but as my wording made clear I stated what I see the issue as being anyway.)

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The dilemma, as I see it, is to retain people new to the site long enough to turn them into PRO subscribers, without annoying the existing subscriber base.

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Agreed. But the problem is… I hesitate to say it this way, but let’s do so for now… “bad” features, or badly implemented features, may well drive more potential paying users away than not having the feature (visible) in the first place would.

To be clear, I don’t think the hints (that I’ve seen) ARE bad, though clearly others have different views on this, like hab638’s post above. I doubt that there will ever be a feature that everyone loves, or everyone hates. But I DO agree that they aren’t consistent as you said, and that inconsistency may cause a negative response in newbies. I think that’s where CM is going with this.

I suppose that one way around it would be to offer a 7 day trial of Pro so that people could experience the full gamut for themselves, but… I suspect you’d find some who would then manage to work the system to get themselves endless 7 day trials. On which point…

I’d get annoyed if the site were to be optimised for the freeloaders who will NEVER become Pro members regardless of the Pro feature list. (But who are perfectly prepared to spend the equivalent of a monthly CM sub on 2 grande lattes at Starbucks.) There ARE limitations on non-pro members that I wouldn’t be able to live with in using CM; I would never go back to an unpaid subscription, nor would I want to since the site has value for me. However a recent (now former, apparently) member made the point that somehow, and I’ve no idea how, some non-pro members are working around that:

Their ostensible gripe was about the revision time, but read between the lines of that thread and some of their other posts and it was pretty clear that there was an underlying thread of irritation there; a sense that they felt that they were being stiffed somehow.

It is indeed hard to walk that line between tempting potential new paying members, and not making existing paying members feel used. There always has to be some mindfulness about potential new recruits, but the first priority should always be the existing members in the fold in my humble.

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Thank you all for all the great input! It’s very much appreciated, especially around getting more people to subscribe to Pro. :raised_hands: @MsFixer the purpose was to generate exactly this sort of discussion :slight_smile:

The issue hints were originally meant to help solve was answer ambiguity - to @morbrorper’s example, “I went” in English could be “Fui” or “Iba” and both could be correct in some cases, so the idea was a hint could indicate whether the answer is preterite or imperfect (in this example, plural vs singular in other cases, etc.) before you answer.

As we’ve ramped up our human moderation efforts, we’ve started adding more hints. But to @hab638 and @LuciusVorenusX’s points, the quality is variable and it’s slow adding hints where appropriate, let alone trying to do so for so much content and so many languages. Reported frustration with the existing hints is what lead to this post.

Good automated hint generation is difficult, though likely not impossible, and we’re going to explore this option further in agreement with everyone’s points about the potential usefulness, especially with respect to particular languages and people new to the site.

In the meantime we’re going to turn off the hints coming from Clozemaster, and instead have the moderator team focus on adding alternative answers where appropriate instead of hints. In this way variable quality and consistency is less apparent, but we can still work on reducing frustration with primary issue of American vs British spellings and other answer ambiguities. Custom hints will continue to appear and work as they have.

If you have any other thoughts, or there’s anything of note I’ve missed in the discussion above, please be sure to let me know. Thanks again!

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Ciao @mike Thanks for staying in touch with us once again. Even since I joined, ClozeM has added several new features and just gets better and better.

I know I’m still not using every feature available to me and yet the improvement in my Italian is amazing, thanks to ClozeM. Does that sound a bit cliché, never mind, credit where it’s due;-)

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