Getting tested on words I already know

I have been a user of Skritter for about ten years now, I think that makes me eligible for the occasional moan (every five years or so maybe).

I find it a bit frustrating that every time I use Skritter I seem to spend two thirds of the time drawing characters that I already learned. We are all here because we love learning Chinese (or Japanese) and we want to study, but especially we want to learn the characters and words we keep getting wrong. So many times I log in to Skritter and it throws up some word, maybe involving slightly unusual characters that I didn’t see for six moths, and I get it completely RIGHT the first time. But then the Skritter algorithm makes sure it comes up again every day for the next three days testing and even a week later. I remembered the word perfectly after six months!! That means I know it!! So why keep asking me for the next three days?? The really frustrating thing is that the third time I get asked I end up getting it wrong because I am rushing so much to get through the questions and then it gets added back into the pack on that basis.

The algorithm seems to be set to make me work for about an hour in real time every day. That is very hard to achieve in practical terms. I should point out that I am using Skritter primarily to learn characters, not to learn words. Every day when I come to Skritter I already spent an hour testing using a different program that lets me type in the the answers in Chinese, because obviously learning words and learning characters are two different things. I wish there was some mode in Skritter where I could tell it that a) I am learning characters not words and b) I only wanted to be tested for ten minutes on the stuff I keep getting wrong, not thirty minutes or an hour on the stuff that I mostly get right.

Maybe what I am asking for is a bit specialized, but just giving people the basic option to set out how much time they have each day for testing would be a really nice feature. It is counterproductive to have to rush through tests every day just to stop them piling up the next day, you end up rushing and cheating, it would be much better to let people do their five or ten minutes of obligatory testing then let them do twenty minutes of voluntary testing as happy bunnies than force them to do thirty minutes or an hour every day (the ambiguity is because thirty minutes of the Skritter clock is very often sixty minutes in real life) where they rush and cheat their way through. In real life we have jobs and study and a hundred other responsibilities to get on with! Please go a bit more easy on us!

Hi there! :wave:

If you are marking something as correct when you haven’t seen it for 6 months, it should be scheduled for roughly a year out and not in three days like you’ve mentioned. Would you happen to have an example of one of these characters that is coming back soon even though you haven’t seen it for a long time and marked it as correct? Or do you mean that you already knew it outside of Skritter for six months (and it’s the first time you’re seeing it in Skritter, yet are marking it correct)? If it’s the latter, you can mark the item as “too easy” which will space it much farther out into the future. In fact, it only takes three times in the first three years for an item. It’s very effective to get things you already know well more matured in the SRS right away.

Also, if you happen to have a mobile device, you might really like the Test mode that allows you to study items in a list even if they aren’t due for review. You could keep things in segments and periodically test on them without worrying about the scheduling system. You can of course keep the review amount as well low to benefit from SRS.

It’s not the intervals he’s complaining about. I think when using the web version, the priority should be the cards that are due on that day. If I have 30 reviews, assuming I got all correct, after doing 30 reviews I should have 0 more. Instead what happens is some cards that are only 1-2% due are being shown as I’m trying to finish the +100% due cards. Without doing at least 5 times the reviews there is no way to finish your daily reviews, which is quite annoying as it takes so long.

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Thanks for getting back to me. I think what is happening to me may actually be a bug, I’ll explain why I think that in a minute. First of all to answer your questions, I am talking about items that I didn’t get tested on in Skritter for a long time, then I get them right in Skritter on the first retest, and then they crop up again in Skritter a couple of times in the next few days. Next week I will take notes and try and get a couple of concrete examples for you. I tend not to use the “too easy” option because I am not sure what it does. I am not sure whether I am marking the word or the character as too easy. Often items are a combination of very well known characters and much less well known ones so it is important to know what you are flagging as too easy. Perhaps you could clarify that?

OK, here is why I think it might be a bug: I have a configuration in my options which maybe not many other people have. In Study Settings, under Parts Adding I only have Writing checked. Tone, Reading and Definition are all unchecked. This is becasue I use a desktop program for studying character definitions and I use another website for learning pinyin tones. With this configuration the only questions I ever get asked are ones where I have to draw the character, which is perfect for my needs. What I have noticed is that whenever I start adding new items, the very first time an item gets added I get tested on that item several times (I would need to count but I am sure it is more than ten times) in the same session, even when I got it right the first time because I happened to know it and every time subsequently. It is as though the algorithm wants me to show I know the word three times before accepting that I really know it (fair enough), but perhaps because of this peculiar configuration it wants to ask me twelve times, i.e. three times each for Writing, Tone, Reading and Definition, even though I am not studying those other modes. This is just pure speculation but maybe if there is something like this going on it would explain why I get repeatedly retested for items that are due for revision. It is as though the program wants me to get it right once more for Tone, Reading and Definition even though they are not things I am studying on Skritter.

Leaving the possibility of this being a bug on one side, I basically agree with what CNR said. In settings I have established a daily goal of 50 items. It is true that when I log into Skritter, on the front screen, it tells me how many of my 50 items I have studied. But Skritter always gives me lots more than 50 items a day, normally 100 or so in fact. When I am testing myself I see the message saying that I have “n items due” where that n is nothing to do with the 50 items I have set as a daily goal. I am not even sure where that n comes from, it is obviously something to do with Skritter’s own internal efforts to regulate the adding of new questions. The point is that basic human psychology means that I forget the daily goal I have set for myself and my real daily goal is always to get that number down to zero. So I log in morning, afternoon and evening and get it down to zero each time and often in the space of a few hours I see it has gone back up to 30 or 40 items. What I would suggest is that the “n items due” message should show the user’s own preferred daily goal. Every new day it should begin with 50 (or whatever) items, and when you get down to zero it can stay on zero, or start giving hero points because you have finished your daily goal. I think this would be better psychology and it would stop people rushing and cheating (or me at least, perhaps other people aren’t so prone to that). It is really just a superficial change I am suggesting. The mysterious n items that we spend so much effort keeping down to zero could be kept as part of Skritter’s internal functioning and not shown to the user.

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For me, the problem isn’t that reviews increase during the day. In a session, I get items that are not due yet even though there are cards that are due which I need to see ASAP for the SRS to be effective. Prioritising due cards over the others is not working properly.

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This is the way the mobile beta clients are set up! We do plan to eventually have the web version and beta version match in behavior. Have you guys tried the mobile beta client yet? (Either the Android or iOS beta app)?

Hi Jeremy,

I haven’t tried the mobile app at all. Because of my less than brilliant eyesight and somewhat clumsy finger typing it is not really my preferred medium. I am glad that is the direction you are going in with the daily goals though.

This week I have logged everything I have been tested on, so let me report back on that. First of all, as far as items coming back into the deck after getting them right after a long delay, I haven’t logged any evidence of that at all. I was really quite surprised. One thing is that a few times I would get tested on an older item, get it right, and the next day it would show up in the test, but of the times this happened in every case it was an item at the tail end of the previous day’s testing. In other words it is clear that the answer hadn’t got back to the server after I closed my browser window, so that is not really a bug with Skritter at all. I think when it has happened before it was either due to this kind of thing or because I marked one of the characters as “unsure” even though I knew the character 100%, so it was logical that it got added back (I tend to mark characters as unsure when I start writing the wrong character, sort of like an adult making a spelling mistake in English). So apologies for the false alarm as far as that goes.

As far as the over testing of new items goes, I did see plenty of evidence of that. I resumed adding back words from the HSK 6 list on Thursday and straight away there were new items coming up 8 or 9 times in a single testing session. In each of these cases I had marked one of the characters as wrong or unsure to begin with, but just once. And then on Saturday I had the word 屈服 asked 13 times in a single session (that is once unsure and twelve times correct). It was like Skritter was telling me to 屈服! I don’t know if anyone else ever reported this, as I said in my earlier post it might be somehow related to the fact that I am just testing myself on writing, i.e. there are no reading or pinyin tests in my deck.

Anyway, hope that’s of some use to you. I may give the mobile app a try yet.

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