Jump to content
Chinese-forums.com
Learn Chinese in China

  • Why you should look around

    Since 2003, Chinese-forums.com has been helping people learn Chinese faster and get to China sooner. Our members can recommend beginner textbooks, help you out with obscure classical vocabulary, and tell you where to get the best street food in Xi'an. And we're friendly about it too. 

    Have a look at what's going on, or search for something specific. We hope you'll join us. 
leosmith

Chinesepod draws the line

Recommended Posts

leosmith

I was shocked last night when I tried to download my normal dose of free podcasts from chinesepod. They were no longer free! All podcasts, intermediate and up, now must be purchased.

I've been using their podcasts purely for listening practice. I'm at an intermediate level. My learning is on hold right now, so I'm merely trying to maintain. Despite their efforts to try to convince me otherwise, their modular (non-structured) learning plan doesn't work for me. I was in it for the listening practice only. And their podcasts served that purpose pretty well.

Please feel free to comment on the chinesepod development. Is it fair? A surprise? did it affect you? etc.

(PS - I compiled a list of alternative podcasts, and posted them in this thread per Roddy's suggestion.)

Edited by leosmith

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Site Sponsors:
Pleco for iPhone / Android iPhone & Android Chinese dictionary: camera & hand- writing input, flashcards, audio.
Study Chinese in Kunming 1-1 classes, qualified teachers and unique teaching methods in the Spring City.
Learn Chinese Characters Learn 2289 Chinese Characters in 90 Days with a Unique Flash Card System.
Hacking Chinese Tips and strategies for how to learn Chinese more efficiently
Popup Chinese Translator Understand Chinese inside any Windows application, website or PDF.
Chinese Grammar Wiki All Chinese grammar, organised by level, all in one place.

roddy

Can I suggest the alternative podcasts get posted here (or some other similar topic, I'd guess there are a few) and this post focuses on the changes at Chinesepod.

Can't say I'm too surprised - they've put a massive amount of stuff out for free, under a very generous license, and this all from a company with (bandwidth) bills to pay. I don't know how the maths of it have been working out for them, but if only a fraction of current subscribers opt to cough up they're ahead. And with the newbie lessons still being free, they can still get plenty of new users.

At least 500 of the earlier podcasts are available via torrent - made available by Chinesepod themselves quite some time ago. So that's quite a chunk of listening material right there for anyone who wants it.

This may well be beneficial for other podcast operators - not just free ones, which will pick up a lot of Chinesepod listeners who don't want to pay, but also paid services which can undercut or overprovide.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
renzhe

It did catch me by surprise, to be honest -- I was just about to download a batch of advanced lessons, and I'm kicking myself for not doing it a few days ago. But, like roddy says, it's not really that strange -- I can't imagine they were earning enough the way it was, and this kind of move is really common with web startups.

Quite a shame, though I'm thankful for all the free resources they've put out over the years. Best of luck to them, and I hope that they find a way to share some non-newbie stuff with the wider public while still managing to stay afloat.

This move also seems to affest other Praxis sites, like SpanishPod, which I had just recently got into. A shame for me personally.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
md1101

i always thought it was almost too good to be true. they had a great website and great podcasts and it was free.

think of it this way.. if you DO subscribe now it might make you study harder and more often because you want value for money.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
imron

Podcasts, PDF's, lesson dialogs and lesson reviews (for all levels) are still all available for free on their website if you know where to look.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
leosmith
Podcasts, PDF's, lesson dialogs and lesson reviews (for all levels) are still all available for free on their website if you know where to look.

If you're talking about intermediate and above, I'd like to know where.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
imron

I am talking about intermediate and above, but I believe it's a bug with their website and don't think it would be appropriate to disclose the details publicly (I have brought it up with Chinesepod on 2 separate occasions over the span of a year, but I guess they don't seem to be too concerned about fixing it).

That said, it doesn't take any technical knowledge to either find or exploit the bug, so if you have a bit of a hunt and think, you might get lucky.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
jbradfor

imron, not sure if you've noticed, but with the change they've made the bug you describe much harder to exploit, by adding a 40 digit random number to the URL. It's still possible to exploit, however, as this number is the same for all the files associated with a given lesson and they've left enough information in the HTML source to determine the random number. They seem to have some pretty incompetent web programmers there. Or they don't care.

But back to the topic, most of the responses over on Chinesepod.com are similar to the ones here, disappointment, but not too much surprise. The primary concerns seems to be

1) The community discussion will be diminished, as there are many people who post frequently but don't use the lessons much, or at least enough to subscribe.

2) They will lose some new members, as the people who used to start off as occasional users and then got hooked and subscribe will no longer get hooked as they won't get enough free lessons to get hooked.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
imron

Actually although it seems we are talking about problems with the same root cause, the specific bug I'm talking about is not affected by these changes and is still just as easy to exploit as it was when it first appeared (back when they released v3). That is to say, on the Chinesepod site it's possible to find links directly to the content, thereby meaning that you don't ever need to concern yourself with 40-digit numbers.

Re the 40-digit number, it wouldn't surprise me if it's just a sha1 hash of the lesson title or something.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
jbradfor

Cool! Another bug! Now I can go spend more time trying to find it, this should be fun. :wink:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
roddy

Interesting to hear that other more recently started services - Spanishpod, etc - have also seen the same changes. I'd assume this means that the whole 'free stuff above entry level' idea is being scrapped wholesale, rather than being turned off after a certain amount of time, as those are much more recent offerings.

if you DO subscribe now it might make you study harder and more often because you want value for money.

And if you don't, no skin off of Praxis's nose. Must have been huge numbers of people who'd thought 'oh great, I'll listen to that every day!', subscribed to the podcasts and then never actually listened. I know that's what happens with a lot of my podcasts.

1) The community discussion will be diminished, as there are many people who post frequently but don't use the lessons much, or at least enough to subscribe.

That'll happen, but conversely you may end up with more focused discussions, from the users who actually care enough to pay. Or maybe you'll get lots of cheapskate Chinesepod junkies hanging around the comments section of intermediate lessons, trying to figure out what the dialogue was from all the questions.

2) They will lose some new members' date=' as the people who used to start off as occasional users and then got hooked and subscribe will no longer get hooked as they won't get enough free lessons to get hooked.[/quote']

I would guess the majority of newcomers to Chinesepod are beginners, and with the low-level lessons still being free, there are plenty of hooking opportunties.

What I'm curious about it what effect this will have on other podcast providers and podcast usage. A cohort of intermediate and up users is suddenly going to be looking around for alternatives, either free or better value for money than Chinesepod's offerings. I won't be surprised if we see new providers spring up or, probably more likely, increased activity / profits at the existing ones.

Or of course, a website called freechinesepodlinks.com might appear, run by someone called [email protected].

Reaction from Chinesepod's own community is here if anyone's interested. Similar sentiment to here I think - 'oh rats, but fair enough.'

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Luobot

Their entire catalogue of well over a thousand podcasts, at least up to the changeover, is going to show up on such fan sites as: ijustlovechinesepodtodeath.com. But, yes, this is certainly good news for existing competition, and it lowers the barrier to entry for new upstarts.

How about a Chinese-Forums weekly podcast?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
simonlaing

I could arrange one where we talk about current events on Skype with 3 people one being a native Chinese speaker who can correct our pronunciation and say the critical words.

Topics might be general events,

Places to travel,

Learning chinese issues/ strategies

Living in China issues.

Anyone interested?

Have fun,

SimoN:)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Luobot
I could arrange one where we talk about current events on Skype with 3 people one being a native Chinese speaker who can correct our pronunciation and say the critical words.

That's a start.

So, in other words, you would record the skype conversation and post the recording for download?

How good do you think the sound quality will be?

Would this need funding, and if so, what do you have in mind?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
renzhe

It's a fun idea, but podcasts like this pretty much require native speakers with excellent pronunciation and near-native speakers as support. I don't know how many such people would be available. I'm certainly far too crap :oops:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
atitarev
Interesting to hear that other more recently started services - Spanishpod, etc - have also seen the same changes. I'd assume this means that the whole 'free stuff above entry level' idea is being scrapped wholesale, rather than being turned off after a certain amount of time, as those are much more recent offerings.

Japanese Pod has the same - only basic stuff is free.:

http://www.japanesepod101.com/

Arabic Pod has become partially paid. All MP3 files are free (need a sign-on) but PDF's and some other resources need to be paid for.

http://www.arabicpod.net/learnarabic

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
renzhe

I don't think those are two are run by the same company (the one behind ChinesePod, ItalianPod, EnglishPod, SpanishPod, FrenchPod, etc.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
atitarev

Leosmith, the transcript is in the premium area, like the ArabicPod (pity, I only saved 16 lessons).

Renzhe, no all different companies but the approach is similar - start free, then demand pay.

Actually, the format is also similar - too much English, in my opinion, something like Pimsleur. In my opinion, if you need to learn the language on the go (in a car, while walking, etc.) a sentence in a target language followed by a sentence in English would do.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
simonlaing

I liked the intermediate and advanced podcasts which were 90% chinese and occasional long new word or name of a person translated to english. If there is a transcript and vocab people can follow that as well.

I think since Chinese pod's beginner are still free we'd be in the intermediate to advanced section. Since most of us are busy this might be a weekend, (say saturday recording situation and I can transcribe them during the week. Imron and Luobot do you think you have the oral skills or would you help with vocab and or topic suggestion?)

Finding the native speaker won't be too hard, I could try a radio host, interpreter, or Chinese/English professor. Perhaps we can change it according to the topic as then they will know what they are talking about.

Would it follow the same format a dialogue followed by discussion of the dialogue?

Or would it be better a free form discussion, like places to travel over the October break, then discussion after that perhaps.

What else am I missing?

have fun,

SimoN:)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Click here to reply. Select text to quote.

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...