I’m not entirely sure that’s right. I see what you mean, but I think there’s a way to do SRS without overloading people. Again, I’m talking about only giving them as much as they can reasonably handle at one time, not actually forgetting about what they need to review. Anything over what should be tackled in one session should be in a “hidden queue.” That’s not “not SRS,” it’s sane SRS.
There are two principles that could be used to determine how much you review in a day. I’m talking about flashcards and SRS in general here, not Skritter specifically, although Skritter is obviously included:
- What the algorithm deems necessary to retain the knowledge the student has
- What the student thinks is reasonable based on many and various personal factors (time, motivation, etc.)
I don’t see a way that you could take 2) into account without infringing on 1). If an item is due, it means the algorithm thinks it’s reached a certain threshold and it’s time to review it. If you don’t review it because you don’t have enough time or motivation, that doesn’t have any impact on whether or not you ought to review it, like @apomixis said.
Now, that doesn’t mean that SRS can’t be sane, but artificially lowering the due count to make it feel better is not the way forward, I think. If you haven’t studied for a long time, you will have forgotten many things, and that is reflected in the number of items due. That doesn’t feel good at all, I know, but that’s how memory works.
However, since it isn’t very helpful to give you thousands of reviews in one pile, we have introduced other ways of coping with this, such as a goal mode where you can chip away at the due queue 100 items a day, or however much you think you can cope with. Obviously, the more the better, but that is related to how much time you have, not scheduling of items. This is akin to your hidden queue, with the exception that the queue isn’t really hidden. Think of it like this: We want to show users what they ought to study, without misleading or hiding the fact that they are behind. At the same time, we want to give users the ability to set manageable goals, because trying to clear a huge queue in one day is often impossible and very demotivating. If you think the large number is distracting, try the continuous mode, which doesn’t show you the count at the top.
There are other things you could do, too, and Skritter could be better at suggesting these or helping you manage the problem. For example, you could focus on certain decks first, reviewing the most important things first. You could consider getting rid of decks that you might not really need anymore. If you’ve taken a very long break, nuking your account and starting from scratch might not be such a bad idea. There are even more potential solutions, but some of them would require new features that are tricky to introduce (such as going through all reading prompts and only then going through writing prompts).
To summarise, it seems to me that all these solutions merely make it easier to cope with a situation which only has one solution: catch up by studying and reviewing more (or delete stuff so there’s less to catch up on). Not studying for a long time has real consequences and that’s not something an app can fix. I have myself tackled queues of several thousand individual characters in Skritter more than once, so I know it can be frustrating! But the large number is a reflection of how much I had potentially forgotten. The solution then lies in helping me (and you and other students) cope with that large number, not to artificially decrease it to make people feel better. If anyone has ideas for how Skritter could make coping easier, do let us know!
I think what is reasonable to study in one day can’t be determined by an algorithm. It is entirely dependent upon personal circumstance.
People build up large vocabs on Skritter when, for instance, they are in an immersion situation and are absorbing dozens of new words/characters daily. Usually in this circumstance they are spending as much as several hours on Skritter a day.
Trouble is, when your circumstance changes, such as returning to non-immersion life, the huge vocab you have built up can’t be maintained so easily if you have, for example, only half an hour a day to review. This results in a large cue on Skritter, which reflects the reality that you are slowly forgetting what you once knew.
If you can, it’s best to plan ahead and build up vocab at a pace that you will be able to maintain over the long term.
But that’s not realistic, so Skritter has come up with some coping mechanisms for how life actually goes.
The algorithm, however, is reflective of actual memory, so there’s no way around that: you will actually forget a large vocabulary if you are not constantly using it.
The good news is: slow and steady works in recovering vocab, too.
Language-learning is life-long, as I see it. Just the way it is.
Personally, I need to “fix” a large number of lists of vocab I once thought I needed but have proved low-value. I put them in there; if I’m going to cope, I either need to take them out again, or get down to re-learning them.
I think there’s an easy way to “fix” this. Why can’t you add an option which hides the real due number somewhere in the settings or so, and just show the number of due cards of one’s daily goal which everybody can individually set. Like this, you wouldn’t need to mess around with the SRS and could still tackle the psychological obstacle of high number of due cards. For me personally, that would be totally fine, because I finally only care about the number which I’ll see at the starting screen. Again, this should be optional for all those people who really want this. But I believe this could improve long term motivation for using Skritter. Indeed, I find myself in the same spot of not having enough time to scale down the number of due cards and this definitely is not motivating at all.
So I just ran into this problem after a half year hiatus from regular studying and came back to over 4000 cards due, which was obviously overwhelming. I was tempted to reset, but what ended up working for me was going to my due cards and selecting the dropdown at the top to only review 100 cards. So @Farham what you’re suggesting there pretty much exists already. It could be improved by allowing for a more granular selection, but basically I found limiting to 100 took me ~15 minutes (painfully grinding through as I’d forgotten so many of them), and if I had extra time, I’d just go through another 100, or 50, etc.
This method kept me a lot more motivated to at least hit 100 minimum every single day, and I was able to whittle my deck of 4000 down to 0 finally after 43 days straight, and now I feel a lot better about my current progress, feel good about re-learning what I’d forgotten over the last month and a half, and being able to finally start learning new words again.