A Diagnosis of LYAL
Forgive me if this is a little incoherent - I wrote this at 11pm while feeling a tad bit tired and incoherent myself
While I disagree with the statement that LYAL is dead, I do agree that it is slowly dying. This answer will look at the symptoms that indicate LYAL is dying and the potential causes. It will also give some suggestions on how to potentially cure LYAL.
But First, Data
For this post, a LYAL is considered failed if there was no learning of the language after the first two hours from the announcement
Since the first LYAL event (at the time of writing), there have been 29 opportunities to hold a LYAL. Of those, 19 opportunities (~66%) were utilised (i.e there was no ambiguity about the language being learned and there was a serious attempt at learning the language). From the remaining 10 (~34%) LYALS, 2 failed due to ambiguity over which language was being learned (April 27 2022 and June 21 2022), 3 failed because people just ignored the LYAL (November 24 2021, February 16 2022, and July 20 2022) and 5 failed because there just wasn't enough interest in the language to learn it beyond the first hour of choosing a language (StackCats - January 5 2022, Coconut - August 17 2022, Coconut (again) - August 31 2022, Labyrinth - September 14 2022 and J - September 28 2022).
Now that there's objective data on the 29 LYALs that have occurred, symptoms can be derived from the 10 LYALs that failed.
Ambiguity Over Language to be Learned
This happens when there are two or more languages with the same score, and there is either no one around that can confidently teach either. In the two instances of LYAL failing due to this symptom, there was a tiny bit of discussion regarding language scores and which should be learned, followed by regular conversation.
Ignoring the LYAL
This happens when a LYAL announcement is posted, and it goes by without any comment or interaction. In the 3 instances of the LYAL being ignored, 2 involved the LYAL announcement being superseded by the conversation that happened before the announcement. In the other case, the announcement was just straight up ignored - there was no prior conversation that took over, and there was no conversation that drowned it out.
Lack of Interest in Learning
This happens when a LYAL starts somewhat strong in the first hour or two, but falls out of relevance over the remaining hours of the event. The 5 cases of LYALs where this happened all had a small handful of language-specific CMCs asked, with some having answers posted in that time. After that, people just seem to "forget" that there's a LYAL.
Causes of the Symptoms
Continuation of Prior Conversations
The 2 cases where the LYAL event was ignored happened because the conversation that was happening before the LYAL announcement hadn't concluded. Admittedly, these instances happened before the recent noise control focus in The Nineteenth Byte, so this could have been a consequence of something on-topic being swallowed by off-topic conversation.
Lack of Teachers Available at the Time of the LYAL
The important part of any LYAL is that there is someone present who knows even a little bit about the language being learned. Without someone who is confident with the language driving/directing the event, all that happens is people trying to learn a language without any idea of whether they're learning it right or making any progress.
This is one of the causes of ambiguities over which language will be learned during the LYAL; when there is no one available to teach any of the top languages, people seem to "umm and ahh" about what to choose. The indecisiveness eventually leads to confusion, and that leads to people thinking "well, we'll just carry on with what we were doing beforehand".
A lack of teachers for a LYAL is also one of the causes of loss of interest in the event; because no one is able to take charge, there is no one with an interest to keep the learning activity going beyond initial engagements. Without someone to take the lead and provide help with learning the language, people will quickly see that there isn't much activity happening and move on.
Lack of Structure and Planning for Teaching the Language
This is probably one of the big killers of all failed LYALs, as it causes all 3 symptoms:
- there is no plan for what to do if there are multiple candidate languages that have no one active to teach them, meaning that any language ambiguities result in the LYAL just failing as a sort of "default plan"
- there is no structure to stop any prior conversation and make it obvious and clear that a LYAL is starting, meaning that LYAL announcements can be "talked over" without any one noticing.
- without a plan of what should be taught or a general path CMCs should take new users down, LYALs default to only a few stock-challenge CMCs without any important features of the language being gradually taught.
Too Much of a Good Thing Ruins its Impact
Everyone loves a party - it's fun and a good time for (most of) those involved. But if you have a party every two weeks for an entire year, people are going to start getting tired of partying so frequently. LYAL has been run to the point where the remaining language pool is running low, with probably only 5 or 6 languages having the potential to have active teachers. The lack of new languages being submitted as possibilities suggests a bit of LYAL fatigue, meaning that people are probably feeling a little burnt-out from seeing so many LYALs come and go.
So What's the Solution?
- Put LYAL on hold for a little bit - give it a chance to rest and gather some hype.
- Add some more languages to the language pool. The question suggests letting languages be re-learned for LYALs, which I think is a good thing to do - people may not have fully learned some of the more popular LYAL languages last time around.
- Create a plan for when there isn't anyone around to teach any LYAL candidates. This could be to make a clear announcement that LYAL isn't being held in that cycle, and that if it looks like there won't be anyone around to teach a language, delete the nomination until someone can commit to teaching it (at least for the first bit of a LYAL).
- Create a template/guide on how to run a LYAL so people aren't 100% free-styling it. This goes to solving the lack of structure problem.
tl;dr There's a few problems with the current way of running LYALs, but with proper planning, they can be fixed.