Skritter "Time"

Is it possible to get an option to change the clock to display our actual time studying? Keep your Skritter recalling time if you insist, but at least give us users the option to choose. My reasons are as follows:

  1. The way my study flow works is that I answer a question, and then pause at the next screen to review - particularly if I miss a card. The effect of this is that the time Skritter says i’ve been studying is always grossly inadequate. I don’t care about time spent recalling vs rehearsing - that’s honestly not of interest to me. I’d like to know how much actual time I’m spending a day.

  2. It makes it harder to plan study sessions. If I want to study for 20 minutes a day, that would essentially be 3-5 minutes skritter time due to my time rehearsing. I tend to answer the non-writing questions in 0-2 seconds, but spend another 5 seconds rehearsing once I get confirmation that I am correct or incorrect. This carries over to the statistics page, which is also entirely not reflective of my time actually spent in the app.

  3. It’s demoralizing to see time crawl in this fashion. If I spend 30 minutes studying, seeing 5 minutes on the timer is not exactly motivating. If I’m handwriting characters, I don’t care about the time spent during each part of the process of learning - but rather the process as a whole. Why should phone learning be any different?

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Question-- If you spent 30 minutes at the gym, but only completed five bench press while you were there, would you consider that 30 minutes of gym time? My guess, based on what you have posted above, is that you would admit that it was a lazy gym day and vow to do better the next time.

I know that your study situation is a very different from the above, and I appreciate you taking the time to spell things out, but keeping track of time on Skritter is a bit tricky. Ultimately, we care more about the reps than the time. That is what SRS is all about. The time is also a metric we track, but it is less important to the study algorithms that Skritter is built on. The main reason that we don’t track total time stems from Skritter existing in the browser. We don’t keep track of what someone is doing on their computer (we’re not Facebook :wink: ) so to prevent study time stats from getting completely out of hand-- when you go AFK or get distracted by other websites, we made the timer auto-stop after 30 seconds on any given study item. Click to the next item, the time starts again.

Remember, Skritter was built to be an efficient and effective review tool. The idea wasn’t that you’re spending time learning stuff on Skritter, it’s that you’re blasting through reviews like crazy to increase your overall language retention-- and to do it far quicker than using traditional flashcards. The goal is to help you learn to read and write characters really well, and since we don’t know what the heck is happening when you’re not doing just that, we just keep track of active study time.

There could be a more elegant solution, but it’s the one we’ve been using since Skritter started, and I think it would be challenging to change that now. An additional reason for not tracking raw time in-app is due to our partnership with teachers and Chinese programs around the world. Many teachers ask students to review for x/minutes per day-- and there is no way (some) students wouldn’t abuse that if given a chance.

I know that probably isn’t want you wanted to hear. We are working on improving goal mode, and thinking about offering a setting to disable the study timer altogether from the study screen, and I hope that when they’re deployed these are solutions that work for your study routine. My advice would be to set a timer outside of Skritter to track your sessions, or to consider switching to a review based goal where a session is over after you’ve completed x number of total reviews. And try not to be demoralized by time moving a bit slower on Skritter-- just remember that we’re keeping track of things a bit differently and be proud of that 3-5 minutes of pure & focused reviews. Hopefully, when you think about things that way, it’ll make numbers like this even more impressive:

Skritter system-wide stats for the month of March:
Hours spent: 16,716.78 (1.9 years)!
Items studied: 117,455,42
Characters learned: 219,410
Retention rate: 86.986%

That’s 1.9 years of pure reviewing. And that is one heck of a number!



Thanks for in-depth response Jake. I appreciate your time, but before I let it rest, I want to add one more counterargument based on my real usage of the app (i don’t use the website).

So to go with the gym metaphor, I’m training for a 10k. I spend 15 minutes jogging on the treadmill, 10 minutes sprinting on the treadmill, and 15 minutes on the elliptical. Does it make sense to have it recorded as 15 minutes of work because in a 10k I’m only jogging?

My issue is not with the timer auto-stopping if you’re inactive. It’s that our time in the app spent on the answer screen before going to the next question is still reviewing. I’m not idling - I’m rewriting the character in my head, practicing the tones out loud, etc. I get your ‘set a timer elsewhere’ suggestion, but that’s really not realistic given that as a smartphone app, i’m using it in snippets - on the bus, before class, etc. It’s small, but it’s just annoying because it isn’t accurate. Everyone reviews a language differently, but my way (and I’d venture to say the way of some others), is to continue reviewing for a few seconds after answering a question, whether right or wrong. Maybe mine is a different use scenario because I do some learning in the app, but even those characters I know I still spend time reviewing.

The overall effect is that the stats screen is useless for me - fun to look at, but not what ultimately concerns me because the narrow version of ‘review time’ is not accurate (and neither are your numbers, you’re really underselling yourselves…) For these reasons, it’s difficult for me to gauge how long I’ve spent in the app and gauge overall time/progress.

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What ircs me the most is that the timer stops the second you answer the question and only starts moving again once you proceed to the next item. If you swipe up to clear the character to write it again no time is counted. At least while (re)writing a character time should always be counted.

Also i feel there should be a grace period of maybe 5-10 seconds after giving the answer where time will still be counted, for you to be able to go over it in your head again without the timer stopping.

@Avery @argead You both bring up some good points that I wasn’t considering in my reply. The main thing we’d like to avoid is having the timer just continuously run with the study screen open, but if we can do a better job of actually representing time spent re-writing, doing a quick review, etc. I’m actually all for it!

I don’t think we can eliminate the count cap altogether for reasons I mentioned in my previous reply, but I will certainly discuss the idea of having the timer stop only when moving to the next prompt or when the cap is reached with the team. That’ll probably get us in the ballpark of what you’re both suggesting, and I’m sure the students using Skritter for school would love the update :slight_smile:

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