To Whom It May Concern;
I really enjoy the educational, convenient and beneficial opportunities italki.com affords individuals like me to partake in. However, the 2016 italki New Year Language Challenge is a most misconceived marketing strategy for any serious language learner on your web site. Do you really think the "reward" of a T -shirt, wrist watch, or the opportunity to view an online movie of polyglots will get people to register, even if it is "for free"? As a premium member I think not: if I can afford to purchase a session or language packet then rest assure I don't need a watch, T-shirt or the opportunity to view a movie about polyglots (YouTube has plenty of video about polyglots). The act of learning is of itself a reward.
It behooves me as to why italki doesn't ask its' free and premium members for suggestions. You have an amazing array of brilliant instructors, and students that look forward to teach, learn and discuss language everyday, 24hrs., 365 days a year on your web site; yet you have let spammers, which there are many, and other quality control issues (amatuer editing of notebooks, etc.) to exist and degrade your product. Frankly, if what you are doing now is the future of italki.com, a global marketplace for teachers of foreign languages and students of foreign languages to meet, you will become just another marginal language exchange web site that no one wants to participate in or join.
If I were to offer a suggestion to you, it would be to adopt chinesepod.com's business model, part of which is to improve on its product by allowing more teacher and member input. The folks at chinesepod.com do listen to their members, and they remain a very high quality language learning website. Good luck on your 2016 italki Language Challenge.
Don't hold back, tell them what you really feel !!! :-)
Seriously though, very well written, I hope they take it on board.