So, we all know the discussion area is littered with language partner requests and italki has no incentive to do much about it.
How about the following:
1) Create a special forum just for language requests.
2) Only paying students can post in this special forum.
3) Each request must clearly state (perhaps by using drop down lists when creating the post) what level you are, what levels you are willing to work with, how often you want to exchange, time slots of general availability (i.e. 1600-20:00 EST Sat/Sun), etc. In other words, each request will have to have at least some basic info to even post.
The advantages to students:
- You will be working with students who have already had experience with language learning over skype, etc.
- Expectations will be clear as they are forced to be entered when making the request.
- Presumably if people have paid to take lessons, they are somewhat dedicated to the learning process and will take the language exchange seriously.
- A would be nice feature: After having a successful exchange, you can increment the number of successful exchanges on the other persons profile. There would be no negative feedback, just number of successes. Good language partners will have a high number of successes and should have an easier time finding other partners. There are obvious pitfalls here, not sure how to make this work nicely without becoming a useless feature.
The advantage to italki:
- Incentive to take at least 1 lesson so that you can ask for a language partner on the 'special' forum.
This is just a rough idea. What do you think?
Your suggestion to post ads for non-paying members and no ads for paying members is a great idea.
Therein lies the balance - everybody wins, italki is compensated and the service remains free.
Perfect.... well done Miriam