LingQ Update – Activity Score

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Mark and Jill explain the Activity Score that all LingQ members can now see on the Overview page. They also talk about Jill’s pregnancy.

Mark: Hi everyone, Mark Kaufmann here again for the EnglishLingQ Podcast.

Today I’m joined by Jill.

Jill: Hello.

Mark: How’s it going?

Jill: Good thanks.

Mark: Another beautiful day here in Vancouver.

We were just commenting on the fact that podcast day means it’s going to be sunny; it seems like anyway.

I don’t know why that is, but maybe we only remember the sunny days; selective memory.

Jill: Perhaps you have to be that way to survive the winters in Vancouver.

Mark: It can’t be that bad, it’s sunny every time we do the podcast.

People just say it rains here a lot, it’s not true.

I guess to start with, we did want to cover a few updates to LingQ, which many of you should have seen over the last week or so, couple weeks, and we haven’t talked about, but we probably should to try and clarify particularly the Activity Score.

I’m not sure if we’ve had a lot of questions about it on the forum, we’ve had some, but it’s probably worth going over that score and what we’re trying to do with that score.

What we are trying to do is get some kind of a measure that allows us to compare our members and particularly the effort or the activity level of our members with the intention that in the future we would award some kind of recognition and probably some points as well for those who are most active because those who are most active will learn best.

So, what we have done based on the statistics that we have in the system, which you can see in your overview page… Obviously, we can’t use the listening hours and the words of reading that are more or less manually entered, not because we don’t trust all of you, but it just leaves the possibility open for people to start trying to cheat.

Jill: Abuse, yeah.

You can just manually enter in 100 listening hours even if you haven’t listened at all or update a bunch of content items that you haven’t read.

Mark: Exactly.

Just to remove that temptation, we are not going to include listening and reading in our Activity Score.

Although those are extremely important activities, we assume that if you are doing the other activities you will be doing your listening and reading as well.

We needed numbers that the system keeps tracks of so that…

Jill: …it’s fair.

Mark: It’s a level playing field, it’s fair, exactly.

Having said that then the Activity Score is the number of created LingQs divided by 2, plus the number of learned LingQs, plus the number of words of writing that you’ve submitted in the month, plus the number of events that you’ve participated in, times 60 and that 60 comes from 60 minutes, basically.

Even though a one-on-one for 15 minutes is not a 60 minute event, we still consider it as one event and we multiply it by 60 to give us that speaking score, essentially.

Jill: So this is a calculation that you’ve come up with and really not something that people should worry too much about, right, the actual formula?

Mark: Exactly.

You’re going to see a score.

We’re going to start to put up, display, at least the top performers and it will be a way that you can gage your performance against the top performers or the most active members at LingQ.

It’s just another tool that we want to use to hopefully motivate people to be more active, to do more things, because that’s always one of the difficulties with an online system or remote learning situation.

How do you motivate people to do what they need to do in order to succeed and so, you know, we can’t force people to come to class, so we have to devise different ways of encouraging people to become active, so this is another way and I think it will be quite fun.

It will allow people to compare themselves to other members and to see their score increasing every month as they do more and more.

Yeah, we’re not sure if the formula is in its final state.

I’m sure it will probably evolve a bit over time as we start to see some real scores and, of course, any feedback that any of you listeners have about it we’d be very interested to hear.

We are going to have a Learner of the Month in November who will be our member with the highest Activity Score.

Jill, you’ll be announcing that next week, so that will be interesting.

I guess we will also list the top ten.

We’ll have the Learner of the Month and our Honor Roll, so be on the lookout for that.

I think that probably covers the Activity Score.

Do you have any other thoughts there Jill?

Jill: I think just that the other reason that we’ll have that Activity Score is for us to have a way to award prizes and stuff, eventually, when we have it all working properly and the top people may earn points or prizes or something, so there is a lot of incentive to work hard.

Mark: Right and, hopefully, we can do more and more things with that score over time to make things more fun or to help liven up the community or whatever the case may be.

Besides the Activity Score we also want to mention that we do finally have email alerts on the forum so that now you are able to follow a thread or follow a forum, which you weren’t able to do before short of checking on the site every day to see what new comments have been added.

Obviously, we’ve been receiving a lot of requests for that and, you know, we want it ourselves because we also were having to search the forum for new posts all the time, so that’s great to have and we just want to make people aware of that.

You can either watch a whole forum or you can watch an individual thread and there’s just a tick box at the top of the forum page or at the top of a thread page which you can tick to watch the forum and then you’ll receive email alerts whenever a new post is posted on that thread…

Jill: …or forum.

Mark: Right. Besides that, what else are we going to talk about?

I know we were commenting earlier that our transcriber was asking… Jill, well you can tell the story.

Jill: Well, I think it was on Monday or Wednesday she was doing a transcription for us and she said at the end that she had a feeling that maybe I was having a baby some time soon.

I haven’t talked about it on any of our podcasts, but your dad and you have just mentioned a couple little things here and there that I think were subtle clues.

Certain people picked up on them and certain people didn’t and she was one of them, so she asked me if I was pregnant and yes, I am.

Mark: And you are.

In case anyone else out there has been wondering the same thing, we thought it might be time to mention that.

You are expecting the baby boy in…was it March?

Jill: Well, yeah, March 30th or April 2nd, it depends who you talk to.

My doctor and the sonographer have two different dates.

Mark: March 30th or April 2nd?

Jill: Yeah.

Mark: You think it’s going to be that precise?

Jill: Well, within a week anyway, so somewhere at the end of March beginning of April.

Mark: Okay. By the way, I think it’s going to be a boy.

Jill: So do a lot of people, actually.

Mark: It hasn’t actually…nobody knows.

Jill: We don’t know.

We don’t know even, yeah, we haven’t found out.

Mark: But since Jill seems to want a girl I thought it would be worth calling it a boy.

Jill: No, I don’t necessarily want a girl anymore.

I’m telling you, my nephew changed all that.

Mark: Okay.

Jill: I’m happy to have a boy now.

Yeah, so I really don’t care, I honestly don’t, just healthy.

Mark: Oh, for sure.

Jill: You know, it’s so cliché, but it’s so true.

You just want the baby to have all its fingers and toes and organs and everything and that’s it.

Mark: I guess what brought it up was that we were talking about our Christmas party and you were asking if my wife was going to bring the eggnog.

Jill: Her famous homemade eggnog.

Mark: Because most of the time you don’t get homemade eggnog you get the stuff out of a carton, which is just not the same.

Jill is quite a big homemade eggnog fan, probably eggnog fan.

Jill: I’m a big eggnog fan period, even the store-bought kind.

Mark: So, yeah, you were a little sad that you weren’t going to be able to take part in the eggnog and I was encouraging you to go ahead and have a little.

Jill: You’re always encouraging me to drink, I know.

Mark: Just a little.

Jill: And, actually, you know what, I would have a few sips.

I don’t think that’s going to hurt anything, but I was saying that there’s raw egg in it and I was more concerned about that because, of course, there can be bacteria in raw egg.

It might just make me sick, but it could be very, very, dangerous to the baby, so you’re not supposed to eat that.

Having said that, I’ve baked cookies a few times in the last couple of months and I still can’t resist licking a spoon or having a taste of the batter, which has raw egg in it.

I know I probably shouldn’t, but I’ve eaten that my whole life and homemade eggnog with eggs in it and I’ve never once gotten sick from a raw egg.

Mark: Well, it’s one of these things that people, you know, blow out of proportion.

There are far more dangerous things that you do all day every day than drinking eggnog or eating cookie dough so, yes, it’s possible, but extremely unlikely.

I guess you’re not supposed to eat sushi.

Jill: No, you’re not supposed to eat raw fish.

Mark: Right.

As I was saying to you, I don’t think people in Japan worry about those kinds of things when they’re pregnant; I could be wrong.

All of you Japanese listeners you can let us know.

Jill: Yeah please; I’m interested.

Mark: Please, we want to know.

Let us know on the EnglishLingQ Forum.

But it seems to me, you know, Japanese women eat sushi.

I know that very often in Japanese meals you get a raw egg.

You know, like in sukiyaki you beat up a raw egg and dip your meat in it.

Jill: Oh really?

Mark: Yeah.

Jill: So it’s kind of on the side?

Mark: It’s like in a little bowl.

You crack your egg and beat it up and you put a little soy sauce in it.

Jill: And then you don’t cook it after?

Mark: Oh no, you cook the meat, yeah, and then you dip it in the egg and eat it.

Jill: Really?

Mark: Yeah, it’s good.

Yeah so, I mean, I don’t know exactly, but I don’t think in Japan they worry about it too much.

It’s just one of those things that I think somebody somewhere decided that’s something that we should raise the alarm on and, really, of all the things you do in the day…

Jill: Probably, and I might be wrong about this too, but it seems to me that maybe in North America we worry about these things more than in other countries.

We seem to be told don’t eat deli meat because it can contain Listeria a bacteria that can cross the placenta, don’t eat raw egg, don’t eat raw fish, sushi.

There are quite a number of items and I just don’t think that everywhere else in the world people abstain from all those same things.

Mark: Yeah, I mean I guess because, obviously, some places in the world they don’t have as much choice in what they can or can’t eat, period.

But, I mean to the degree that you can avoid any possible negative consequences you want to avoid everything that might be possibly dangerous.

At the same time, if you’re always worried about stuff…

Jill: …that’s not good for you either.

Mark: And, also, are you worrying about the right things.

You know, like the whole pesticides on fruit issue, which I think we’ve talked about before.

I mean there is no proof anywhere that pesticide residue on fruit does any harm to anybody or has ever done any harm to anybody, but it’s something that sounds like yeah, that sounds like that should be the case, so people worry about it; whereas, in fact, there are lots of things that are far more dangerous to you out there.

Certain things, for whatever reason, grab our imagination and make us worry about them somehow.

Like the raw egg thing; raw egg bacteria.

That could really…so I’m not going to eat any, but really the chances of that happening are so small.

Jill: The chances are slim, but I guess, it’s just do you want to take that chance.

Mark: Well, that’s right.

Jill: I mean, for nine months not to eat raw egg is really not a big deal, so why would you take the chance.

Mark: That’s right.

Jill: I guess that’s sort of more the point and it’s the same thing with drinking alcohol.

I know we’re told here, people think, you know, once you know you’re pregnant don’t touch alcohol; don’t even have a sip.

You know, all my aunts and my mom, not that maybe they drank a lot while they were pregnant, but certainly they drank and all of their children have been just fine.

We were in a taxi on the way to the airport in New York with a couple of British guys.

We were talking about me being pregnant and I said something about not being able to drink.

We hadn’t gone to any pubs while we were there because I couldn’t drink anyway.

He said he had an ex-wife and they had two kids.

He said in his very funny accent that his wife would have told you to basically “screw off” if you told her she couldn’t have anything to drink while she was pregnant.

Mark: Right.

Jill: So, she’d had two kids and I don’t think she drank…

Mark: We don’t know what the kids look like.

Jill: Yeah, this is true.

I mean he didn’t say oh yeah, she was a boozer who drank every day, but he certainly made it seem like she had the odd drink.

I just can’t imagine that all French women stop drinking wine completely while they’re pregnant.

Mark: Yeah.

I mean, back in the day nobody really…I mean the doctors didn’t say you were not allowed to drink and everybody turned out fine.

I mean yeah, okay, if you’re drinking a lot that’s going to be bad, but to have a glass of wine with your dinner…

Jill: I think you even said your wife Kindre had the odd half glass while she was pregnant and all three of your children are just fine.

Mark: Yeah.

I mean it’s obviously not…and that’s the problem when doctors come out and they’re just so cut and dried.

Like 100 percent, you’re not allowed to have any alcohol and no this and no that.

Well, I mean, give people a little credit.

Say, you know, be smart.

You’ve got a baby in there, so…

Jill: …don’t go get drunk.

Mark: Don’t go get drunk, but you can have a glass of wine with your dinner and I think some doctors do and some doctors don’t.

Jill: Yeah, I agree.

Mark: It’s certainly not as cut and dried as they make it out to be or as dangerous as they make it out to be; it’s everything in moderation and you’re fine.

Jill: So I might just take a sip of Chris’ eggnog tomorrow night.

Mark: Now, you see, after all that.

Jill: A sip or two.

Mark: Well good.

I guess we’ll end it there and we’ll reconvene on Monday.

Jill: Alright, great, see you tomorrow.

Mark: Yeah, at the party.

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