On User Courses in iKnow!

Since announcing the launch of iKnow! as a paid service starting on March 1st, we have received a large amount of feedback on the position of content created by users within this service. We realize that lack of clarity on this issue has caused concern, for which we apologize.

After careful consideration, we have decided to take the following approach:

* On Tuesday, February 8, we will make all user-created courses private on the new iKnow! service.

At that point, only the course creator will be able to access these courses. Other users will not be able to see these courses in their course library or study them on iKnow! In addition, any goals made at Smart.fm from now until the end of March will also be private on iKnow! and visible only to the course creator. Please note that this will not affect user-created courses on Smart.fm. Everyone can continue studying these courses on Smart.fm until that service closes on March 31, 2011.

* In early April we will release content creation tools and course privacy settings on iKnow! that will allow you to share your courses.

This will allow you to share your courses with users. If you want others to have the option of studying your courses, you can set your courses to public. (For those previously enrolled in such courses, the courses will then show up in your iKnow! library.) But if you are uncomfortable sharing your content within the context of a paid service, then you don’t have to do anything. Other users won’t be able to access your courses.

It’s important to note here that you do not need to be a paid member to access your account on iKnow! and change the privacy settings on any of your courses. All users, paid or not, will still have access to the site. The only limitations are on studying with the applications.

Finally, we understand that sharing courses is particularly important for teachers. We highly value the support that schools, teachers, and students have given us, and we are currently building group functionality to facilitate the sharing of content between teachers and their students on iKnow!


The iKnow! Team


114 Responses to “On User Courses in iKnow!”

  1. avatar Yvette says:

    This is great, a step in the right direction that respects the efforts of those who made content. However, I feel you’ve neglected to consider users who are working on studying user-created content. What happens to our stats and our study sessions? Do we have to start over from the beginning? Worse still, less popular languages might not have any content available at all for a long time. This seems rather unfair to users not learning Japanese or Chinese, and it gives people like myself little reason to pay for a service that doesn’t have any relevant content.

    Perhaps a better method would be to leave the content open unless the creator makes it private? Or allow users to subscribe to user-created cards, with the money going towards them? Or better yet, *making access to user-made content free* unless the creator wants to receive a small payment from iKnow, or keep it only for themselves, or allow iKnow to use it for free? If, as your earlier post suggested, everyone is really coming to SmartFM/iKnow for your work, not user-created content, that shouldn’t be a problem at all, should it?

    The issue was that your company was profiting off other people’s work. Getting rid of any work with a creator that isn’t around anymore doesn’t seem like a good solution either.

    • avatar Kat says:

      I hate to say it but the new iKnow platform frustrates me to the point that not only would I refuse to pay for it, I don’t like studying Japanese on it at all.
      The Japanese font is too small to read clearly. The Kanji animated gifs are missing. Brainspeed doesn’t exist. The teaching style is completely out of whack, to the point where rather than teaching me it manages to confuse me entirely.

      If you were to charge for Smart.fm the way that it is, and has been all this time, I would be the first in line to pay for your services. But this mutilation that you are presenting on iKnow makes me want to cry.
      I already mentioned all this on your suggestions website, and your response was far from reassuring. I will wait until April, but if the new platform doesn’t end up including all the wonderful aspects of the old one, then I won’t be paying for a membership.

  2. avatar osakaj says:

    so anybody studying user content at present, copy it all to your own goals!

  3. avatar untmdsprt says:

    So basically you’re going to taunt us non-paying people who still have accounts with goals we’ve started but can’t finish unless we find the money to pay you to continue. Is that it?

  4. avatar barrabas says:

    SmartFM/iKnow!, thank you thus far for a great service!

    i agree with some of what Yvette said.. everyone on SmartFM knows that the stuff they make can be used by others, so it has kind of been the norm.. asking a user if s/he wants to go private in April makes more sense (to me) than asking a user if s/he wants to go public; at this very moment everyone is public anyway (unless there is something i am missing?)..
    and the whole point of creating courses on SmartFM/iKnow! is to share, so if a user wants to keep his/her courses completely private, why bother with SmartFM/iKnow!? then s/he might as well use flashcard programs like Anki or Mnemosyne; it’s less hassles.

  5. avatar Aidee says:

    Another weird move from iKnow…

    You guys totally missed the point of your internet platform!

    The reason smart.fm is a powerful tool is the S H A R I N G.

    Yes, you got the point: It is unfair to charge for user-created content. But making the goals private is not the solution either.

    You don’t know (because I am sure you haven’t even studied user activity patterns) how many times I have been corrected by a native speaker of the my target language.

    Why don’t you make a version of smart.fm with tons of advertisement and leave us alone!?

    Your strategies have been ambiguous, your time frames are nonexistent, your customer care, terrible and your price, ridiculous.

    It seems to many of us that you realized all of the sudden you were sitting on a gold mine and made all these insane moves.

  6. avatar Rick says:

    Hurry up and make that content creator guys!

  7. avatar Celestral says:

    Sooo you’re now taking away any reason to even sign up for the new site?

  8. avatar Panamayuck says:

    It’s going to be sad when you close this site all together in a few years. I’m sure someone else is already moving in to take your market.

  9. avatar Verymahler says:

    I think this move shows respect to the work that people put into their content. iKnow will not steal content from people who made it.

    Excellent choice to make it private by default (I just hope the stats don’t get lost, when the creator decides to make it public later)

    I like the new site from iKnow:
    – the HTML user interface instead of Flash, (although some user interface elements seem to be slower and less intuitive)
    – The stats
    – The calendar
    – The quality of the iKnow content

    But I really miss seeing the progress of my friends and classmates.

    And I agree with one of the posts before me. If you make it possible for the people who created the content to profit from it, I’m guessing you’ll get A LOT of extra quality content and subscribers… at least worth to experiment with.

  10. avatar Jo says:

    I’m a little confused by the post. “Everyone can continue studying these courses on Smart.fm until that service closes on March 31, 2011.” The one I was studying this afternoon has now disappeared already this evening. Feels like having a door shut in your face. So do we have to wait until April to find out what this new site really will have available? and at what cost? I had been using this site for years, and now will have to find another way to study–there’s too much ambiguity now.

  11. avatar petithomme says:

    I can’t find anywhere else to report bugs so I do it here..

    “Next study time” do not match those in Smartfm and it seems “weeks” is used instead of “days”.

    I cannot add some of my lessons in “Libraries” to the “Guided Study”. Is there a limit or something?

    Weekly Study Target is limited to 10h..

    The “Study time” in “Progress Charts” was more readable in Smartfm.

    And there are odd things like:
    – Next study time: 8 weeks from now
    – Estimated time to completion: Less than 1 week

  12. avatar tft26 says:

    Can we keep the courses public until Feb 28
    since the service will be paid beginning Mar 1 anyway.

    Also, what if the course creator is no longer active in iKnow? Then the course will remain private? Isn’t that a waste?

  13. avatar dehanyan says:

    So… was there any warning about this beforehand? This is a huge change for me since most of my goals are user-created. Suddenly switching back to smart.fm is kind of rough for me. I do wish you guys could have found some other way besides doing something so sudden and unexpected… Unless I just failed to notice that you guys had posted something about this earlier?

  14. avatar Larrikin says:

    Right now iKnow is not significantly better than smart.fm in any form. smart.fm was extremely useful to me as I’m follow the Tobira textbooks and their content was pretty much at the same level as the official smart.fm content and now I can’t study those.

    I had considered purchasing the obscenely expensive iKnow service to finish out the semester and then take my studying elsewhere since I’ll have graduated and won’t necessarily be following the text book as strictly, but I won’t even be doing that since there is no guarantee the content I was studying will even be there anymore.

    Over $10 a month is way too expensive for a service I had been receiving for free, especially now that it won’t even be as good as the old service thanks to a lack of content. The iKnow service was worth maybe 1000 yen a year before but now its not even worth that.

  15. avatar Confanity says:

    This is a pointless, misguided move. Let me make this clear: ALL THE CONTENT I USE IS USER-CREATED. I already had lost most of my interest in iKnow when the management decided to steal user content and sell it back to us, but if you take away every single goal I have been studying and hide it from me, then my motivation to pay even a single yen immediately drops to zero.

    Yes, in the superficial aspect, making user-created content “private” *seems* to take care of the argument that iKnow will be stealing user-generated content to sell to others. Unfortunately,

    1. as has been noted above, this invalidates one of the strengths of the platform, as well as the point of creating a goal in the first place. You can’t create a goal, after all, without having studied the material; why would you want to go to all that trouble just to re-study it? And why would you want to have “privacy” settings when part of the point is to share your content with as many fellow users as possible? And

    2. I suspect that because of the latter point, most people won’t be using the privacy settings to restrict access… which means that THIS MOVE CHANGES NOTHING. It doesn’t make the slightest difference; it just adds more work for you and more complexity to the system without benefit or meaning.

    Why not just solve all your problems at once by *compensating users for the content they create*? You don’t have to send them actual cash if you don’t want; why not just set up a scale for reducing their subscription fee?

    For example: Joe creates a goal. Each time another user logs a certain amount of study in a goal Joe has created, Joe gets some amount taken off of his fee for that month.

    Or, each time another user starts or completes a goal Joe has created, he gets a (larger) amount deducted, perhaps based on the number of items in the goal.

    Either of these plans would encourage Joe to 1. create a lot of content (a large number of items to study), and 2. create high-quality content (to keep users coming back, or to make it more likely that they’ll see the content all the way through to completion). And while iKnow will be making some percentage less money from Joe himself, the mass of high-quality content that Joe creates will draw more users and encourage them to use the service for longer.

    In short: This pointless “privacy” scheme has removed my last shred of interest in giving any of my money to iKnow. If you want to regain my interest then drop the charade, find some semblance of honor, and start rewarding the people who make your service worth using.

  16. avatar Confanity says:

    On second thought, I agree somewhat with Aidee above: instead of suddenly stabbing your loyal user base in the back with fees, why not just add ads? You’d hardly be the first, and surely a little net-surfing of your own can help you find plenty of layouts where the ad content is tasteful and non-intrusive.

  17. avatar Confanity says:

    Here’s a third idea you can try: put your money where your mouth is. If, as the management claims, the meat of iKnow is truly in the official content, why not just charge for that? Instead of making user-generated content useless (by hiding it), why not make it free, and make official content only available to people who pay a premium fee for it? That way, you’re not stealing anything from anyone. This is a model used by lots of other online services, including a great many games. You could also move some of the site frills, things that are desirable but not strictly necessary for a bare-bones study experience, to the premium service.

    If you look at this proposal and find yourself thinking, “No, we wouldn’t make a profit that way” — then that is proof that your entire plan is to steal and re-sell user-generated content. Think about it.

  18. avatar Mira says:

    This makes no sense. People go on Smart.fm to study new goals and learn new vocabulary that they did not know provided by other people. They create goals to provide content to people from knowledge they already know and want to share. This will take away the whole point of Smart.fm. Nobody will be able learn anything. You are really going to charge people money to create content on a site but no one will be able to use it anyway, other than the creator, but they already know the content or else they wouldn’t create it! Wow. Well goodbye Smart.fm…

  19. avatar Aidee says:

    Like I said.. another sudden and stupid move from iKnow.

    I read all these point of views. No one is happy.

    What makes smart.fm strong is its users’ eagerness to S H A R E.

    Just place ads on smart.fm and let us study. Seriously.

    • avatar Verymahler says:

      Aidee, I disagree that it is a just stupid move.
      If you have the choice between them just using content from other people or this new policy, I’m sure you would make the same choice. (If only for the legal issues they might face)

      However, everybody is criticizing iKnow for not thinking outside of the box. That is a whole different matter. And I totally agree with you there.

      The old iKnow and Smart.fm were free for a long time and this was a huge gift to us. I understand you are frustrated, but there is a difference between knowing the stategy that brings in most users and which strategy is most profitable. In the end, they are still a company.

      I do think iKnow can do a better job at public relations (much like the mess that Digg made a few months back) but I’m not angry at them for removing a free service. I am grateful they gave it to me in the first place.

    • avatar Confanity says:

      Verymahler, it is a stupid move. The underlying idea (“people like it; let’s try to make money off it”) may be bog-standard, but their execution makes no sense. While there is certainly some anger that “a free service is going away” and that’s kind of silly, it’s also very stupid of the iKnow management not to take that basic element of human nature into account.

      Here’s the thing: I’m not angry at them for trying to make money. I wouldn’t pay 1000 yen a month for the service, but they can charge whatever they want… for content *they* create. Without user-generated content, the site and the service are impoverished. The management has told us, in its roundabout way, that user-generated content is just the icing on the cake, and that the bulk of the material here is part and parcel of the service itself. Whether that’s an unfounded, hopeful claim or an outright lie is anyone’s guess, but this newest twist just made it worse: hiding user-generated content unless the user makes it public is nothing more than a smoke-screen to hide what they’re doing. As before, the choice seems to be between either pruning away most of the service’s usefulness (all of it, for me and people like me), or outright stealing other people’s work.

      I’ve outlined three different ways they can resolve this fundamental problem: by compensating users for the content they create, by keeping user-created content free, or by finding alternate revenue streams. I’m sure that there are people around smarter than I, who can refine these ideas or offer even more solutions.

      In short, the moves up to now have shown that the management is ignorant of human behavior and terrible at communication; if they continue in their current course, that’s either suicidal bullheadedness, or straight-up stupidity.

      IMNVHO, and with my apologies to the people involved in this debacle.

    • avatar Verymahler says:

      Well it seems like we will not agree.

      I know that the move seems to drive users away, but it appears to me that iKnow just can’t keep supporting a free or ad-based site (although they aren’t communicating it very well). So we don’t seem to have a choice and need to accept the situation.

    • avatar Confanity says:

      “Don’t have a choice”? I gave three choices. I’d need to see some really solid numbers before I believe that the only option is to steal user-created content, but pretend to make it meaningless instead.

      And we *do* have a choice: we can look for other services that don’t steal the stuff we create to sell back to us. As I said, I’m certainly not going to give these people any of my money.

    • avatar Verymahler says:

      Confanity, they are nice as suggestions, but they aren’t your current choices. iKnow makes the decisions for their own business. So they are not very relevant to the situation and we have to accept that. Either this service offers (near to) what you need or you look for someone else who does/can provide it. At least they won’t be ‘stealing’ content which was the major concern for many people.

    • avatar nikkos010 says:

      They’re not thinking outside the box at all. This is actually very narrow-focused “profit profit profit!” thought of the type that was around during the tech bubble of the late 1990s. Guess what? The tech bubble burst because managers failed to realize that control is in the hands of the people on the internet.

      Thinking outside the box would be “how do we keep our existing base while earning the money we need to keep the site running and generate a modest profit” The answer would have been to SELL the iphone and Android apps and make some money that way (I would have been fine with paying for the app while web remains free). Sell a stand-alone type program ala Rosetta Stone for the Japanese Core2000 course collection, since I don’t always have online access to study. (I’d have bought it) Place ads on the website (either google, or niche-specific like Anime/Jlist or travel/tourism) to generate income may have been an option too.

      Switching to a paid service was the completely worst move. Especially since other revenue stream options wern’t tried. They’re likely not making a cent on iknow.com while watching their alienated userbase on smart.fm dwindle into nothing.

  20. avatar Lisa says:

    Tobira is my main reason for using the site. If Tobira lessons will not be on the new iKnow! site I will not want to pay for the service.
    I really like iKnow! so far, so please consider Confanity’s idea, posted Feb 8, at 7:13 am: “If, as the management claims, the meat of iKnow is truly in the official content, why not just charge for that? Instead of making user-generated content useless (by hiding it), why not make it free, and make official content only available to people who pay a premium fee for it?”
    Great suggestion Confanity! Management – please take note.

  21. avatar balint says:

    this is just simply not fair. i was studying a couple of courses and i was in the middle of them and now i cannot access them till april when i have to pay for all that.

    I think you are progressing in the wrong direction by forcing everyone – i understand that you have to monetize your site somehow, and i would be happy to pay the 1000 yen, but with this unfair action i say good bye to you. I think Im not the only one.

    it’s a shame that you think knowledge is an asset that you can trade in.

  22. avatar A User says:

    They can’t charge for just the official content because the only parts of it they can claim any ownership of is the audio attached to each item. They don’t own the words or sentences because its a language, they didn’t invent it and can’t claim copyright over it. Which means someone can turn around, remake the lists without the audio and maybe change the sentences and BAM official content is suddenly in the proposed free user-generated content.

  23. avatar Karusan says:

    This doesn’t work. I discovered Smart.fm about a month ago and found it so good that I even stated “this is the kind of service I would happily pay for”. Of course, that wasn’t possible then.

    When the announcement of closing down Smart.fm came, I changed to Iknow. I really didn’t mind – the service worked just as smoothly and differed mainly in looks. Although I missed the social aspect of Iknow – I felt more alone there, not being able to visit other people’s profiles and so on. But still I thought: Alright, let’s pay the 10 dollars a month.

    This changed when I logged in today and saw all my courses but one gone. Courses that I studied, that is – apparently they were user created. So… just what should I pay for?

    I don’t mind paying, but this reeks of unprofessionalism. I just can’t see Iknow’s business plan. Why not a basic and premium version? Or basic (user) and premium (Iknow) content? I suppose the owners want their $$$, but I’m sorry, this is not the way to get them. At least not from me.

  24. avatar Annoyed says:

    You’re just slowly killing off your user base by pissing them off more and more. I used to love this site but I think I will move back to Anki or any of the other FREE alternatives.

  25. avatar mcv says:

    I have a question about synchronization between smart.fm and iKnow. Is there any? Do items I learn on smart.fm get updated on iKnow? Do items I edit (in my courses) on smart.fm get updated on iKnow?

  26. avatar Celestral says:

    Is it just me or is Smart.fm breaking down?
    A few goals are listed as “Review: now” even though I’ve mastered them today and I actually have to review them in a few days…

  27. avatar Roman says:

    No official Korean lessons…?

    • avatar pj says:

      If it was only a matter of content, I would agree with what most of the people here are saying. However, a lot of people seem to be ignoring the point that what iKnow is providing is a study service. Regardless of the content that one is studying, the format iKnow uses to help you make steady progress on your goals and keep track of what you have learned is a large part of what makes it so useful.

      I’m not saying I agree/disagree with the price or the way they’ve gone about implementing this change, but I think people who are doing nothing but complaining about iKnow not offering this service free for user-defined content need to look at the whole picture before they get so agitated.

  28. avatar anonymous says:

    So basically you’re going to taunt us non-paying people who still have accounts with goals we’ve started but can’t finish unless we find the money to pay you to continue. Is that it?

  29. avatar anonymous says:

    You’re just slowly killing off your user base by pissing them off more and more. I used to love this site but I think I will move back to Anki or any of the other FREE alternatives.

  30. avatar ninaschmina says:

    I’ll start this by saying that I’m grateful to smart.fm; it really helped to take my language proficiency up at least 2 to 3 levels and in a fun and interesting way. So thank you!

    However, I agree with majority that the change and these random decisions are wreaking havoc with … well, everything.

    Having read through the blog comments, I second the solutions offered by Karusan and Conafity.

    1. Don’t charge members for user provided conent,
    2. Create tiered membership where premium users get it all, but basis members (who would obviously pay much less, or maybe even nothing) would only have access to user-created content.

    I’m sorry, I’m super tired so am afraid I’m not at all eloquent – but hope somehow managed to get my point across.

    [ps. I have created a ton of content since signing up over a year and half ago and I also rely heavily on content provided by other users.]

  31. avatar elsiemarley says:

    Wow, yeah, on the very surface this seems like a good idea, but then scratch a little away and you can easily see it’s just an attempt to cover their asses from legal repercussions. Don’t get me wrong, I am so very grateful for the free service and all the friends I made, but it’s like they’ve run out of feet to shoot themselves in, so they’re sprouting more and more just to keep up with demand. Now even LESS people will pay for this site than before, with the user content gone completely. And now they have TWO things they’ll have to retract on, if not immediately then months down the line, in order to be a respectable place to study again.

    This is all just a terrible shame. Such a waste. I’m truly sad to see this place fall into disrepair.

    Smart.fm, why u no use ads?????

  32. avatar anon says:

    While I agree iKnow has improvements to make, I just have to say that I actually really appreciate the efforts they’re making and applaud the speed at which they’ve been iterating on – and updating – the site. Development is hard, and it’s rare to see such quick turnaround. I’ve spend a lot of time on language sites, and few offer a package that works as smoothly as this. I’m really rooting for them, and I greatly look forward to the improvements they have planned – especially the portable device (ie. ipad) support they have promised.

  33. avatar balint says:

    It’s so good to see how communicative that the guys behind iKnow and Smart.fm are. They don’t even reply to ANY of the comments. Funny thing that you wouldn’t expect from someone who tries to teach you communicate (in another language).

  34. avatar Willardsdaughter says:

    iKnow! would still be a “gold mine” at half the price, dare I say it, at 1/3 the price or even 1/4. When I look at the new price in terms of the cost of language lessons, it’s still a big pill to swallow, but it helps me put it in perspective. Still from $0/year to $144/year is a leap that my poor little mind, much less pocketbook, has trouble understanding.

    At a happier price, say $30/year you would probably see more people joining just like gym memberships – they’re not gym rats, just thinking about it, etc. At $12/month it seems more like that fantastic $14000 machine that lets you exercise in 4 mins/day – it would be great, but I’m just not willing to plunk down that kind of money . . . .

  35. avatar jAMESG2012 says:

    Will we miss their own stuff? No.It is poor and disorganised. EXCEPT 4 listening- as a Japnese learningstude. I guess It is their site: and a lot of it is pretty weak in design: especially progression [core modules esp.]

    Too much: 100 yen maybe : they made it no question: I have to choose at that price and therewould be getting more new stuff from my face to face evening classes once a week for less… so it’s a no brainer.

    But I was just getting to the stage of finishing reviewing and wanting to put up more Intermediate stuff from my face to faces: , and they are cutting it dead. The big benefit over free downloadbale Japanese stuff is the listening… I just have to get out to J quicker.

  36. avatar Karusan says:

    Ok, I gave it another try. Started the second Japanese Core 2000 course, since my Genki 1-12 disappeared.

    And I must admit: Iknow IS good. No doubt about it. Sleekness is important to motivate me; I like to be visually pampered when studying, and both Smart.fm and Iknow do this well. (Anki was a disappointment here.)

    So I’ll probably go for the 10 $ a month at least in the beginning. After all, the Japanese Core courses are great and I still have many of them left to do.

    But even so, I think Iknow is making a huge mistake. Like many commentators have pointed out: This way of acting will cost you your largest asset: Your users. You’re cutting off the branch you’re sitting on, and I hate to watch this happen since Smart/Iknow is the best language training service I’ve come across on the net!

  37. avatar Sears says:

    I think this is just ridiculous. These instant actions that you guys take are untorelable. We didn’t even have time to prepare for such things. I say that your business plan is leaking somewhere.

  38. I really hope that you reconsider this pricing plan because Iknow is the best learning tool I’ve ever used. Now you just ripping people off the oportunity to learn more and to create a better world.

  39. avatar paul says:

    I know you must at least review these comments or at least have someone updating you on ‘highlights’ and ‘the current state of opinion’.

    I do not know the factors used to determine your strategic and day-to-day decisions.

    I can say from the users and content creators perspective, you are missing a key aspect of what the soul of this application is.

    I will say there are examples of open source projects who have continued there ‘free’ versions while provide paid or premium services to paying customers.

    You can allow a free service to self correct and self organize. Free storage (cloud,etc…) is abundant.

    You can provide premium services to paying customers.

    You can provide a service variation for schools and learning centers. Reporting and administrative features.

    You can provide premium services to companies. Include voice analysis, certifications, etc.

    The idea of today’s collaboration IS creating the platform for abundant growth.

    Find a read the book
    “What’s Mine Is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption”.

    It details the current trends today and provides an interesting background on how we got here.

    Collaborative Consumption describes the rapid explosion in swapping, sharing, bartering, trading and renting being reinvented through the latest technologies and peer-to-peer marketplaces in ways and on a scale never possible before.
    If you’ve used a car sharing service like Zipcar, experienced peer-to-peer travel on Airbnb, given away or found something on Freecycle or lent money through Zopa, you’re already part of the rise of Collaborative Consumption.

    Don’t you want to add your name to this list of companies who ability to facilitate great service by providing a platform for abundant growth.

    The choice is ours

    Peace and Aloha

  40. avatar cjc says:

    Although I am super appreciative of the site and all the hard work that has gone into it, I’m really disapointed that other options weren’t tried to make money, first. Many people have mentioned the use of ads, which would be fine with me, but you could offer an ad-free option to those willing to pay for it.

    With the economy as it is now, I’m not sure that there will be a lot of people willing to lay down $12/month for a service that’s been free for such a long time. I know, that it’s not feasable for me right now.

    Another issue is charging for user content; ummm essentially, it’s stealing, annnnd that’s not ok.

    I suppose I will finish out my time, and look for other options, unless, of course, the owners reconsider (please?).

  41. avatar Lina says:

    Too expensive T.T

  42. avatar Aidee says:

    What Paul said, post 42, sounds really sound.

    You should hire the guy as a consultant. You really need to work on your communication skills and public relations.

    Anyway, I thought so much about what would have happened when you guys had been honest and told your loyal users:

    “You know what, guys, this is getting extremely expensive and we need to make a decent buck, can you help us out?”

    I could almost bet that you would have gotten a lot of immediate support from all of us. I know I would have.

    The way Wikipedia has survived, for example. And I must tell you, you *had* a more passionate loyal user-base, don’t ever doubt that.

    You just needed to add a PayPal “donate” button and Google Ads and you would have been on your way to being a profitable company.

    The users have excellent ideas, like this Premium paid service that has better features.

    The donations and ads would have been the start of a very profitable enterprise, because yes, your product is absolutely awesome…

    From anger to utter sadness… what A waste.

  43. avatar Aylowar says:

    I agree with most people here: present ‘marketing’ strategy is pushing smart.fm as a learning solution into the garbage pit.

    Here are the points that they should consider:
    1. 12$ per month is too much, sorry. In my country average person works one full day to get that much. Someone from India would have to work full week to get that much. Your price is comparable with prices for entertainment internet projects that took millions of $$$ to develop. And to be honest I do not believe you’d be so charitable as to spend MILLIONS of $$$ on free smart.fm. I just don’t believe it. Somehow you made it to this day, which means you’re NOT completely unprofitable.
    BOTTOM LINE: lower your prices. For ex.: as people here proposed, get a ‘donate!’ button and also tell everyone to pay just 1-2$ per month. Those who love the site and can afford it, will help donating. And you’d get some stable cash from the masses. Or get ads.

    2. How many users will set goals they have created to ‘public’ after site changes to paid service?
    I don’t think many will. Even though you hope for it. You’re killing ‘public’ aspect of the site and still hope people will work for ‘public’.

    3. Would you do it EVEN if you’re a paid user and let them make money on your work with no compensation?
    Some will say yes, some will say no. Anyhow, you’d lose a lot of lists. And thus more paying users will get discouraged to pay.
    As it is, only limited languages are available to learn via smart.fm lists. Therefore when you cut user lists, you cut your audience going back to those 3 basic languages.
    If you hide user-generated content, you lose users. If you don’t hide it, you can get a sting under the tail by legal means. A choice of two evils.
    But it can be avoided if you leave free users a chance to use new paid app. Make a restriction for study time or goals studied, for ex., 1 hour per day max and 1 list per week max and watch people and lists staying.

    4. Killing social and sharing aspect of the site is like killing the soul of it. Without socialization and sharing people will get bored with ‘just studying’ in time. Why would I need my stats bar if I can’t see my neighbor’s stats? Who can I address if I have questions about lists? With whom can I collaborate on making a list I have in mind? It’s not so fun studying alone.
    Do not change the format of smart.fm, do not make it another plain flashcard app. It means throwing everything you have worked for by now away.

    As for methods of generating money, people above have said it well. You can use ads, you can use free+premium access, you can lower pries to generally acceptable (1-2$ per month), add donate option, sell mobile or standalone apps, provide premium services for learning institutions and lots more.
    I repeat: I do not believe you’ve been so charitable up to now and really don’t know where money come from.

  44. avatar Zulu says:

    Good learning tool, but not worth 1000 yen per month. I’ll be looking for a different way of learning Japanese after trial expires…

  45. avatar MeisterKleister says:

    I always thought this site was to great to be free… never thought I’d turn out to be right someday.
    And I actually think the monthly fee might even be worth it. However, I’m still not going to subscribe to it, since I’m a student and low on money.

    A piece of free software called Anki might be an alternative to me.

  46. avatar bruno4y says:

    Smart.fm is part of my daily life. After breakfast, I take my laptop and study Japanese and Russian about 1 hour a day, sometimes more.
    I checked iKnow but I did not like it so there is no reason for me to pay for it. I hope you do not shut down smart.fm but if you do it, it will be an unhappy decision. Thank you. Bruno4y

  47. avatar bruno4y says:

    One more thing: yesterday I donwloaded Anki and started my first lesson in Japanese. This Anki is good and I am getting used to it. Bruno4y

  48. avatar Aidee says:

    I had a student of mine open an account on Smart.fm one day before all this nonsense started.

    He was fascinated by it and couldn’t wait to start using the program…

    He is willing to pay the ridiculous price but as for now, there is no way of creating new goals, nor studying others goals… He’s studying Spanish, for heaven’s sake.

    So I sent him to Anki and he’s happy with it.

  49. avatar mdspencer says:

    I feel sad about the change. I am not sure that I think the site is worth a subscription of 1000 yen a month so probably will discontinue using it.

    I think the financial/management guys at smart.fm did this basic sum.

    Number of current users: XXXXX
    Number of potential paying users: YYYYY

    Income from XXXXX = 0

    Income from YYYYY = More

    Therefore, lets go down the route of YYYYY because otherwise we cannot continue anything.

    I understand the basic business sense of this. However given their past track record of implementing changes as they see fit with no communication, I don’t really think it will change with a charged-for model.

    Good luck guys… you had a great site but I think you are going about this all wrong. Of course, I don’t know what YYYYY will end up being so may be speaking out of naivety.

    Maybe you should have taken a leaf out of the lang-8 book. Ask for donations, ask people to take out a subscription and in return give something tangible. Develop a new site with more features which is chargeable and leave smart.fm alone running off donations alone. I am sure that there are infinite possibilities. Sad that it ended this way, I think.

  50. avatar Till says:

    Wouldn’t it be possible to make the users in Smart.FM now decide whether they would share their content in the future on iKnow or not? I could imagine that hose who don’t want to pay won’t even bother to log into iKnow and then their content will be lost forever – they might however agree to let other people use their content if you make them chose that option on Smart.FM now while they are sitll using it.

  51. avatar Yvette says:

    How clear can I make this? There is ZERO reason to subscribe until AT LEAST content creation tools are released.

  52. avatar Yvette says:

    “Search Results
    No courses matching swedish found.”

    Thanks, iKnow. Thanks a lot.

  53. avatar Joe says:

    When I first saw the announcement that you were changing smart.fm I was shocked and angry. I had plans to get all of my college students using it for lessons I created to coordinate with classes using a popular English language book. Of course it would be open to others.

    Now, seeing all of the other comments about what a big mistake this is I feel better (as in not alone). I’m already considering alternatives. Frankly, I even like using iKnow, but the arrogant way in which this change has been implemented has discouraged me from paying for it.

    bye bye

  54. wow this is great post i like this.

  55. I believe this is unfair. Shame on you guys. Although I hope you succeed but I will not wish you good luck.

  56. avatar hb7of9 says:

    Iknow sucks ass. Only two of my 60 odd goals show in Iknow, rest of my coureses were user created, so they are now unavailable to me. Thank you Paul Greenberg for fuck…..ing up my learning effort. Delete my account, I don’t want anything to do with Cerego Japan again.


  57. avatar carrie says:

    I agree with someone’s suggestion above that users who create more content (which could be judged either by quantity, or by quality, or by both) should pay reduced fees for the service – these users are making iKnow much more valuable through their efforts, so reward them!

    Also, I am happy to pay for iKnow, but $144 a year is simply too much, especially considering the fact that this amount will drive many people away, thereby significantly reducing the number of language goals created (especially those that are not Japanese or Chinese), and reducing the value of the website for many of us.

    There’s no need to charge more than $30-45 a year per member, depending on the amount of content they sign up for. For example, see the Flickr model, which charges around $45 a year for a pro account. You should also consider allowing some free use, to get more users in the door – how are people supposed to feel like committing to the site if they don’t get to try out the basics first and get hooked?

  58. Reduced user base means reduced user produced content which is essential for a social platform. Thanks for fucking up my learning effort too.

  59. avatar Dayna says:

    This is very sad.

    I have recommended this to all my fellow colleagues studying French, Portuguese, Italian and Spanish. NONE of these would be available to me now, even if I were to pay. Losing content generated by users is a huge mistake.

    I agree with aforementioned ideas, most of all with the idea of honesty. I would have happily donated to help smart.fm stay afloat and profitable, just as I have for Wikipedia in the past. Going about it this way feels very wrong. Hopefully you are still keeping an open mind and listening to what the people that helped make this site what it was have to say.

    If not, I bid you adieu.

  60. avatar Temperance says:

    Anyone who pays for this service is buying a pack of lies. The number of users grew because this site was sold as the Wikipedia of learning where users worked together to create free shared courses. Even as the quality of service went down over the last year, we endured it vainly believing in you. If you wanted people to pay for the Core lists, fine (though they are now available for free on other sites). I don’t think anyone would have complained about that. I have brought dozens of my students to this site, but I am warning them against the new pay site. If you would have offered a premium service, I would have gladly paid for it so my students could study for free. Your new CEO seems to have problems understanding what integrity is and the importance of keeping one’s word.

  61. avatar dammit says:

    Fuck, this sucks. SmartFm was truly to good to be true, WHERE HAVE ALL THE GOOD MEEEEN GOOONE?

  62. avatar ryanthewired says:

    There’s more to our efforts than just courses. You’ve conveniently ignored what happens to the content we’ve created; the audio we’ve added, the words we’ve added, and the sentences we’ve added.
    Courses are only the skeleton, but we’ve donated the blood that fills the body.

    All the intellectual property we’ve contributed still exists in your database, for you and your users to exploit and add to their own courses.

    As a truly ethical move, Cerego should delete all user-generated content from their systems; not just the courses.

  63. avatar gmwiz05 says:

    “* In early April we will release content creation tools and course privacy settings on iKnow! that will allow you to share your courses.

    This will allow you to share your courses with users. If you want others to have the option of studying your courses, you can set your courses to public. (For those previously enrolled in such courses, the courses will then show up in your iKnow! library.) But if you are uncomfortable sharing your content within the context of a paid service, then you don’t have to do anything. Other users won’t be able to access your courses.

    It’s important to note here that you do not need to be a paid member to access your account on iKnow! and change the privacy settings on any of your courses. All users, paid or not, will still have access to the site. The only limitations are on studying with the applications.” -end_quote

    This is a good idea; But, what does it mean by paid or not? Does that mean that people can use the site without paying… and use the user created,”public”, content. If so, that’s fine by me. (^.^)

    I’ll just have to pay, When I decide to use the non-user created content. I could have read this wrong, though.

    • avatar Confanity says:

      What they mean by “paid or not” is this:

      “You don’t get to use any of the content created by our users unless you pay, BUT even if you don’t pay we’ll allow you to give us, for free, the content that you created. We will then sell this gift you gave us for profit and give you nothing in return.”

      Don’t give these thieves any of your money!

    • avatar shocked says:

      I have a feeling that all those proposals that users gave won’t be taken into account and all the work that users had put into the site will vanish…
      I just can’t believe that it never occured to the creators to add ads… such a simple and reasoanable idea… it shouldn’t require high inteligence to hit upon this idea…

    • avatar letdown says:

      It is exactly As you Said. They will Not live a Rats Ass about anything that has been posted here. And you know why? Because they already set their new business modell in motion and there is much more profit to be gained milking users monthly for the service. Then again in the first place i would admit that they have every right to do so. It’s really us who have been lucky to use this brilliant learning tool for free as long as we did before they finally realised that there is no revenue. I’m totally with the people who suggested ad space and paid apps for smartphones, that should’ve more than sufficed to pay for monthly cost of server traffic. Just today i logged in for the first time after a long pause. Due to job reasons i cannot continue to attend my japanese classes on saturdays so i thought “welp, you still can practice through smart.fm” and then i saw and read these announcements. That’s just how it works. Even though the service, when it was still free of charge, was brilliant i do hope they loose all their users and learn from it. I was willing to buy smartphone or even rosetta stone esque service when it was still smart.fm but not anymore. I have gathered enough learning material over the years so this doesn’t really hit me
      , i just feel sorry for the people who just stumbled upon this service. i will see to it that my account will be deleted. Thank your for listening to my rant. あばよsmart.fm

    • avatar bohfive says:

      I get the feeling that we can certainly “access” the site, but there won’t be any material to use…???
      What can we use??? Will the community blog etc still exist?
      Unless we pay, how will we know what we are buying??
      Will we be able to search for what is available – that is we can look,but cannot access ANY material without paying??

  64. avatar WTF says:

    Seriously when did Yoko Ono become your CEO? You guys have gone from being one of the best study communities ever to a self-involved train-wreck of a company in a matter of a month. Good luck.

  65. avatar bruno4y says:

    I think it is time now to create a big
    Wikilanguage, a free encyclopedia of languages that anyone can edit.

  66. avatar barrabas says:

    iKnow! is doing now what Toyota did a while back when they ad a crisis; not replying to customers’ questions and comments, hoping the ranting and raving will pass over.. that’s what many Japanese companies do when faced with a PR problem; first step: ignore it for as long as possible.. second step (when the heat gets too much): tell everyone ‘we are sorry for not replying, but we want to assure everyone that we are doing all we can. and we are very very sorry’.. third step: find someone who will take one for the team..

    has anybody ever paid for Facebook? or Wikipedia (excluding voluntary donations of course)? and yet these sights rock it.. smart.fm/iKnow! is in my mind really onto something what the learning experience is concerned.. but, they are playing a hard game what their user base is concerned.. how many users does smart.fm/iKnow have? how many can they afford to loose? do they really care about their non-Japanese customers? when comparing this blog in English with it’s Japanese counterpart, it is interesting to note that there is not a SINGLE post on the Japanese version of this blog.. why is that? do Japanese customers not feel the same about these changes than the people on this blog? in general, Japanese people can easily afford to pay ¥1000 per month for English lessons/material because they pay far far more for private lessons.. ¥1000 is VERY competitive, IN Japan.. so the changeover, which happens to correspond with the new fiscal year in Japan, is perfectly normal in Japan, because in Japan all big changes happen in April every year, including price hikes of goods and services.. so it is nothing out of the ordinary to see this happening in April in Japan.. i won’t be surprised if the management of iKnow considered ONLY their Japanese clientele in this changeover; clearly they are not complaining, which means they will be willing to pay.. what’s a ¥1000 in Japan? what’s the equivalent of ¥1000 elsewhere in the world?

    and, when people decide to make the courses they created ‘public’, they will effectively be giving consent for their content to be ‘sold’, so then the ‘stealing from customers’ issue is for all intents and purposes dealt with.. in Japan things are often delayed just due to the fact that everyone involved in a matter needs to give their ‘consent’.. a user making their created courses public IS that consent, and therefore in Japan under Japanese law that will probably suffice.. and, why would a company bother wasting storage space with something they cannot use? if a user does not make their courses public, and it is not being used, and the user who created it does not pay for their service (aka storage space for their study content), it won’t be long before iKnow announces that all unused user content will be deleted..

    all in all it seems that iKnow is in a win more loose some situation, and they might just be willing to loose some..

    or i could be completely wrong………..?

    PS.. Anki is a really good flashcard progam, in fact, it is the best out there at the moment.. for free.. granted it is not as colorful as smart.fm, but the scheduling and control of content is far far superior.. i use both Anki and smart.fm at the same time.. smart.fm is convenient and easy to just pickup.. Anki makes me far more dedicated, and I know it will always be around, even when i cannot get to my PC.. and the guy who develops Anki did in fact NOT do what iKnow is doing now.. he decided to keep it free, ALWAYS.. go Damien!

    • avatar Larrikin says:

      My Japanese friends who use the site said that 1000 yen is too much for them and they won’t be paying either.

  67. avatar lehcim says:

    The statement about users being allowed to continue their privately created courses on smartfm is clearly a lie. Courses disappear and people are blocked and later ejected without warning or explanations
    That doesn not make a good case the new site

  68. avatar Maria says:

    Take a look to the Japanese version. The courses will let you know everything you need about why. Some people are so damn right…

  69. avatar julika says:

    Seems there are some very angry people out there!!
    I have to agree with what the majority have said. It is a great shame that this fantastic free tool is dissapearing and that another solution cannot and will not be found.
    Comparing Smart.Fm to Facebook is a good analogy because any content posted probably becomes the property of the site. therefore they can do what they want.
    It think Barrabas is right. They are looking at their Japanese consumers who will happily pay a lot. The bottom line sadly is money.

    Thanks Nick for the link to Anki.

    • avatar bohfive says:

      thank you for quizlet – it lets me use for FREE or offers me interesting upgrades… now that’s GOOD!!!

    • avatar bohfive says:

      thanks for Quizlet – not as much fun as smartfm, but definite possibilities.
      What is Language Perfect like? Bit difficult to see what is included before you pay?

  70. avatar whssensei says:

    Try Quizlet, it is far better than Anki – more like what smart.fm was like 18 months ago before the changeover. You get audio, and are required to type in a response, rather than just think what it might be. You can also share lists, compete against others and play a couple of silly games. And it’s FREE!

    Strangely enough quizlet saw what smart.fm was doing and has upgraded it’s platform incredibly over the last few years – it used to be much more like Anki. So it does seem odd than all of a sudden Smart.fm/iKnow wants to start charging for their service.

    I have loved using the iKnow/smart.fm platform. It has been invaluable when studying for uni Spanish exams, and I have advertised it as a learning platform for my high school and night class Japanese students. I have sung it’s praises to other language teachers as well. But, from now on I’ll be using Quizlet or Language Perfect (designed for use in NZ and Australian schools).

    I can understand the need and desire for Cerego to make money off the platform, and like others would have been happy to pay 3,000 a year for a basic service or 5,000 a year for a premium service, but 1,000 yen a month is too rich for my blood.

  71. avatar jim raynor says:

    PLEASE cerego, MAKE IT 100yen PER MONTH! I’M POOR!

  72. avatar Sung says:

    This is a real disappointment. I would not mind ads to keep the service free. There should be a free version and a better paid version, for those who can afford it. I used it for learning Korean, and now that’s not available. It’s sad how temporary things are becoming online..

  73. avatar steve says:

    i was struggling to learn kanji, until i found smart.fm, i fell in love. with its slick user interface, i was able to learn atleast 700 new words , aswell as 1st grade and 2nd grade kanji.

    however, i am not pleased with the sudden news of smart.fm closing. i am very disappointed and have already found new alternatives of learning japanese. i use anki aswell as a nintendo ds game that helps grade schoolers prepare for jr.high kanji test.

    long story short, i will use smart.fm until it close, but i will not be paying ¥1000 a month for the new iknow service. this is a outrage. thank you for the help, but i will be doing my studies elsewhere

  74. avatar bob says:

    They are doing this becuase of Japanese users NOT native english speakers. look how many people have “liked” team_Iknow. most of them are Japanese. For Japanese users 1000 yen a month is a STEAL. for native English speakers we can find so many better free sites. Its Japanese users loss. We can use anki or quizlet or a half a dozen other programs out there. they could too but wont go looking, and probably dont know enough English to get started.

  75. avatar bob says:

    @bruno4y “i think it is time now to create a big
    Wikilanguage, a free encyclopedia of languages that anyone can edit.”

    good news they are !!!!! check it out face book. it is called the open source language project or something like that. it is in large part do to this FUBAR that iknow started.

  76. avatar KenHikage says:

    “My Courses” hasn’t worked since this morning’s maintenance.

  77. avatar bruno4y says:

    @whssensei Quizlet is just great!!! thanks

  78. avatar RachelCabbit says:

    This is frustrating. I have very little time to study as is, and I found smart.fm (and until today, iKnow) to be extremely useful for learning the masses of vocabulary for my degree in japanese. Now I cannot access the Tobira lessons, and in order to study the vocab, I would need to input it myself, however I just don’t have that kind of time. So my degree has just gotten a billion times more difficult, and for a stressed final year student, that is the last thing I need.
    Sort it out please, or else I may not even come back when you start charging.

  79. avatar Jake Baldwin says:

    I don’t necessarily mind paying for iKnow, as frustrating as it is.

    The concern I have it that I primarily use a small selection of courses. At the moment, the value of iKnow hinges on whether or not the authors of the courses intend to pay for iKnow. I’ve not spoken to the author of the decks I use, but I get the impression that the author does not intend to (and with similar, free alternatives available, I can’t really blame them).

    As much as I am prepared to pay for iKnow, it would be a waste of money for me if I cannot access the courses I have been using. The fact that iKnow have such faith in their own courses is somewhat irrelevent if they are not the courses we use.

    This policy really needs to be reviewed if the value of iKnow is to be maintained.

  80. avatar JJ Cappa says:

    You guys really need to implement some spam blocking on this blog.

  81. avatar Tomas says:

    I have been coming back to smart.fm occationally to study for half an houor or so. Since Iknow will charge monthly this customer behaviour is no longer affordable. Im very sad for this unfortunate development of smart.fm. You will most likely loose it all since you have not learned customer behaviour of the 2010th decade. Look at Spotify foor a good business example, with their free, open and premium editions.

    I will look for a new Smart.fm site to replace the current.

    Sincere regards to all fellow students
    Tomas Bergman Sweden

  82. avatar Kimmo says:

    I hope the Friends and messages from them in my account will be transfered to Iknow as well.

  83. avatar Susan Kendzulak says:

    I agree with many of the comments above.

    Smart.fm was fantastic. I am disappointed I can’t continue studying the Minna No Nihongo textbooks, which were a great help to me, so I will probably not become a future paying customer.

    Many of my students and friends have also expressed similar concerns.

  84. avatar Ryuutou says:

    All I have to say is —

    Learning does not have a price.
    So I’ll be migrating to another place.
    There are many places to go other than this money hungry service who wants to steal money.

    Who cares about how the site and the damn interface is or how beautiful it looks – all that matters should be whether you’re REALLY learning or not! That’s the true value in a service.

    Is it making you want to be motivated? Do you stick to your schedule? Is it really worth 10 dollars? If so you better get your money’s worth by using that site every single second…

    But in my case – I’ll be using Anki – kind of the same idea. I hope you realize that your user base will drop drastically.

    But it’s not like they care – they want money – they won’t listen to anyone, money hungry selfish people… A price can not be put on education nor knowledge..

  85. avatar fxsaucedo says:

    Thank you for creating, maintaining, and managing smart.fm/iKnow. Like anybody else, I don’t like paying for anything out of my own pocket.

    To me, this product/service is useful and regardless of the growing pains it is a good value at ~$11US monthly.

    If you decide to steal my goals, that’s ok, I “borrowed” the information from someone else. I wouldn’t mind a few months credit for my data-entry time, but it’s not really necessary – that was part of my learning process too.

    Keep up the good work and nevermind the cry-babies, they’ll thank you later when their knowledge starts to pay off. Thanx.

    • avatar cjc says:

      It’s not about being a crybaby, it’s about the fact that other options should have been at least tried. Not everyone has $12/month to spend on a subscription.

      Honestly, if it was cheaper, I would probably pay for the service, however at $12/month, I just can’t do it.

      The biggest issue is that user created content is going to be sold to other users; this content wasn’t created by SmartFM/Iknow!, so there should be absolutely ZERO profit from this.

  86. avatar Jen says:

    This is ridiculous… What exactly is it you’re having us pay for? NO course lists unless we make them ourselves, even if there are tons floating out there that the creators have no problem with us using?

    The problem creators have isn’t that other people use their goals… it’s that you are trying to make money off of something THEY made. Why not have a revenue sharing plan like youtube.

    And, for that matter, if you want to make money so badly, why don’t you have advertising instead of making us, especially since we create a lot of the content on the site, pay?

  87. avatar MIDOxRI says:

    There was some new research that says that big amounts of people have combined intelligence that is higher than the average of them, or the highest of their individual inteligeces. Even higher then a group of specialists on some matter. If someone is actually reading those comments, they might be wondering what I’m getting at. My point is LISTEN TO WHAT THE PEOPLE TELL YOU. If you implement their advice your service will be better and more profitable and what not.
    I may have used some of the English incorrectly, but English is not my prime language, so bear with me.

    You are saying we will have access to the goals we made? Even if we can’t study them we’ll be able to see the items? I have to admit that was my greatest concern when I read Smart.fm is closing….. I have lists I made and have no back up of…. As I randomly added words as I found them, reading a book or a website…. I don’t mind not being able to use the service as much if I can still see those words!

    The iknow! service is something I am not even considering. Even if I did have the MEANS to pay, that is alot of money O: As it is, ~I~ have no credit card I can use over the internet, neither is anyone in my family of my friends, as I’m young. I can’t ask my friends’ PARENTS to use their credit card, now can I? Even if I were to pay them back, that would be too odd o_o Besides 144$? That’s alot! I was thinking maybe Americans or Japanese can afford that kind of money, those are rich countries… Or so they seems…. but if even the people from there can’t afford it? What about us people from the rest of the world? Okay Israel is not all THAT poor, but 12$ is more to us, than it is to people of the states, or Japan…

    Personally I think the idea of user-created content being free and those core lists being premium is a good idea O: Maybe even let free users a much limited access to them, like 1 weekly hour of premium features… That way people can also experience the payable service, and if they decide to pay, they will know what they are paying for!
    Payable service may look like a good idea in the long run… (As while lots of people will leave, new people may be introduced to the site, and not knowing the service was previously free will gladly pay for it) but think of how much more profitable and better it could be if you also kept your “fan base”? There would be even MORE users.

    Another thing you could try, is inner “point” currency, like there is on DeviantArt now O: Basically, people can buy points…those points are tradable O: People can use them to buy subscriptions or give them as gifts, or even use them to commission someone to create a list for them. Alternatively, people could get a point for every item they create, or list\subscriber they get\ or any other thing….There could even be given a point bonus to users who completed a premium goal O: That way people would also be more motivated to study… And a random amount of points can be equal to a month’s subscription… like 4000 or 3456 or whatever other number that is not impossibly high XD

    That would allow even people who really can’t buy a subscription a chance to use the site and the premium features…
    Tho I admit a point for creating a list\item may not be a great idea as it will create a lot of junk items…. so maybe when some other user starts learning that item? Or better yet when someone finishes studying the item… that way only useful items would be rewarded, and people would be encouraged into putting effort into making goals…That would make the site so much better quality-wise…. Tho I see some flaws in this system……Hmm… Well maybe creating items for premium use or something can be completed so….

    I do have a tendency to write alot >_>

    One last thing…
    I really liked this site, and I don’t think it’s fair how some people are being all “You screwed my studies blablabla you suck how dare you whatever”…. It’s not like you OWE them anything. You didn’t have to make this site and for it to be free or anything, tho I realize you also didn’t do it for altruistic reasons or anything XD But it was nice while it lasted. I have enjoyed it and if you are making it payed….well good for you. I will feel it’s lose, but it will be forgotten soon enough. I will find alternatives, or if I’m desperate enough make my own XD How hard can it be? But I will not whine about your site closing or anything. Tho I will not wish you luck either. So …on this note, my very long comment ends.

  88. avatar Ian says:


    I don’t understand this company at all.

    – You guys put out buggy iPhone software, then pull it. You change the name from iKnow to smart.fm (which sounded more like a radio station than a learning site — and I recall, you got TONS of comments regarding the sheer LACK of forethought about THAT), then switch back to iKnow.
    – You encourage people to use your API and create software and websites only to yank the service from people later. Encouraging open-source participation in learning and development, only to back off on that vision.
    – Now you take all user-created content which most people created to SHARE, and many had been studying and restrict all of those (sure, for privacy reasons, understandably). BUT THAT’S WHAT MADE THE PRIOR SYSTEM WORK!? DUH.
    – AND now you want to charge for your limited sets of words, which ARE NOT APPLICABLE TO MY CURRENT STUDIES.

    OMG. Every move seems like a company just LOST in trying to decide how to proceed. You may have developed a “science for learning” but WHO IS DESIGNING YOUR BUSINESS PLAN?!?!

    Have you seen so many irate comments on this thread?? GET A CLUE.

    WHAT WAS WRONG WITH THE OLD SYSTEM? Where are you going with this? Before I invest $10/mo… you better tell us where you’re going with this, because you’re track record of CHANGING something is LOOMS OVER you.


    Look, I don’t mind looking at ads if it will make it FREE. Do you get that????? I don’t think MANY would mind. You so miss the boat on this one, AGAIN, in my opinion.


    I liked Smartfm. It was a good tool. I appreciated it very much. I understand a need for profit. I would pay if I thought it was worth a damn. I however DO NOT like the new Iknow. There are only three languages? Really? As if anybody is going to pay $10.00 per month for that. My previous goals and my progress are gone. There is definitely better alternatives. The suggestions on this blog have been great. Obviously, the creators of iKnow are not listening. I will NOT be back. Everyone I know will be dropping like flies. I seriously get their need for profit, but I think they are going about it the wrong way. Alienating all their users will backfire. I am sure they will be gone in the future. How can they survive? I guess the Japanese students will pay. I feel sorry for them, being ripped of by the iKnow creators and owners. Bye iknow and my former good site, Smartfm. I am very sorry you had to end a great site with you own shortsighted selfishness.

  90. avatar DeadSmartMF says:

    Hi. So all that effort isn’t going to last. I’m not paying 1000en. That’s enough to keep you in fruit for a year guys, even in Tokyo (if you don’t buy them for prettiness). They forget how rich Japan is in money terms – 10 years ago 1000 yen was worth less than £5, now at least 70% more..except for the Aus, J is no longer affordable internationally

    Anyway if anyone has ideas of what else they are doing to keep going can they hit the DeadSmartMF hotmail.uk account [ in London] I’ve created for this purpose. If you’re in London I can share experiences of -“free” classes and culture evenings and the different schools, plus where I have got files from…I think we can get over this here, if we pool all knowledge… DSMF

  91. avatar sonicoliver says:

    I think the site could be run with a sponsorship/advertising model.. I also think that a new, free, competitor will rise to fill smart.fm’s place.

    I am personally willing to work on such a project… who’s with me?

  92. avatar Unsatisfied Customer says:

    Just to let anyone who studies the Tobira material… they are creating Anki cards now for us. So no need to pay 1000 yen to these people. I don’t quite understand their logic in this. Maybe enough people will pay so these people can go to college and learn about business… and gain some common sense.

    You make us pay to now use our own materials (whether they are public or private) right? So we still have to pay to use it… when we could make it free with something else. Bad business. You should’ve left the user made material free. If most people come here for iKnow! material anyways, it shouldn’t put a dent in your pocket book.

  93. avatar Jenwu says:

    I love Smart.fm. I was looking forward to practicing every day.
    I mastered hiragana and katakana, and I have retained it thanks to brainspeed.
    What’s wrong with having ads and keep it free?
    Cerego will keep going but what of all those who put so much of their time creating material?
    What about all those, including myself, who can’t pay and can’t find another learning source like this one?
    I find it hard to believe Cerego didn’t realize how it would impact their users and what a PR disaster it’s for them.

  94. i know this is not exactly on topic, but i have a blog using the blogengine platform as well and i’m having issues with my comments displaying. is there a setting i am forgetting? maybe you could help me out? thank you.

  95. avatar Free porn says:

    I had hoped that iKnow courses would still remain free of charge, but this way I’m better off watching some free porn.

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