“Mulligans” and temptation: your thoughts

As the description says, “We all know you are trying to cheat, but why stop it, right? You really shouldn’t cheat, though. You know who you are.”

Every once in a while, I’ll make a mistake that wasn’t because I forgot but because I was groggy and distracted. Or because I have dyspraxia and ADHD and sometimes I forget the word for the concept even in English. I’ve known 本 and 木 for well over half my life, but there are days when I didn’t look to see if that last stroke was there.

I do about half my reviews with Tsurukame. For those of you who’ve never used it, Tsurukame is a ridiculously useful app that happens to make cheating pretty easy. Sometimes the temptation is strong to cheat, especially on enlightened items. It’s a pretty big blow to the ego to have to kick a kanji back four months because I really thought that 禾 radical was a 木.

Would I be morally in the wrong to tell Tsurukame to count these things right? Am I dooming myself to a lifetime of mediocrity? Am I taking a stand for my fellow neuroatypicals?

I only ever actually give myself mulligans when I typed wrong but I meant the right thing (the Crabigator still hasn’t fixed my stubby fingers). I just thought this’d be an interesting conversation.

EDIT: I should clarify that I was trying to use the word “morally” in a tongue-in-cheek way. I don’t actually think cheating is a big deal either way, but I try to force myself not to cheat even when I really think I just did an idle brain-fart. But man is it hard to watch those enlightened items go all the way back to Guru.

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I don’t think it is a question of morality. I think it is unwise, but not wrong.


Why would you be morally in the wrong? You’re harming nobody. Morality doesn’t come into play here.

It definitely won’t help your learning though. I use a script that lets me do the same with WaniKani but I do save it exclusively for typos or not getting the exact wording WaniKani likes. Do my reviews groggy and mistake a 木 for a 本? Tough luck, should’ve paid better attention.

But in the end that’s all up to you. It’s not gonna doom you to never properly learn japanese. All you do here is lay a foundation, you won’t magically forget a kanji or a word because you cheated on your reviews this one time. Either you won’t encounter it “in the wild” and it never mattered in the first place, or you will encounter it in the wild and you either remember it or don’t - in which case you look it up and that’s basically another review.

If you’re intent on using an SRS the way it’s intended, you should keep corrections to a minimum, and be very critical of whether you actually knew that, or you just happened to remember it because the SRS app you use marked it wrong. But if you’re less strict on yourself, for whatever reason, that’s fine too. It’s no skin off my back, the worst you’ll do is set yourself back a bit. :man_shrugging:


I’m a very unapologetic cheater on those kinds of things. (Well “unapologetic” when I say this but my heart feels the burden…)

I’m looking at it from a perspective of “will I recognize this character when I need to in the middle of reading”. And, if I confused something for a sec because of one stroke (or even one radical) being different, I’m like 95% confident that when I’m in the middle of reading and have all the context, I’ll get it right.

I think the best test of whether you’re going wrong with this approach is how often it happens. If you confused 本 and 木 once, cheat and pretend you didn’t and then get it right every other time you’re good. The moment you find yourself cheating on the same issue twice in a row you probably ought to reconsider.


I make a fair few typos when doing reviews because I type too fast when doing them so I definitely make use of this. Sometimes I get distracted and don’t actually look at the prompt closely and if it’s something I feel confident about I may correct it depending on my mood. But I’ve set myself rules to not do it on the same item multiple times in a row, and only at low item ranks. If I don’t know an item then I’ll probably fail it again so I’m not too concerned.

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Yes, and there are times in my life where I’ve wildly misunderstood what I needed to do because I didn’t “look to see if that last stroke was there.”

But you know, do whatever you want, it only hurts you, so why should I care?

I really like the ask again feature for that reason. If I go, derp, shoulda known that, I can send it to the back of the review queue. if I make a mistake again, ok, I didn’t know it and back down a level it goes!

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Well, morality is technically: what one ought to do and not do. It doesn’t specifically require that the behavior affects others. That stipulation is a grounding for your morality, but not necessarily for all moralities.


I’m pretty strict with correcting an answer because taking a “mulligan” now means I’ll probably have to look it up when reading and it’s not worth the trade off for me.

And actually reading has given me a better gauge of when I actually do know a kanji or not so I can temper my usage more accurately.

You’re technically absolutely right - but I don’t really see morality as a single unambiguous thing. By asking others about the morality of a decision you implicitly make it about the morality that involves others - after all, nobody can tell you what your own morality regarding things completely internal to yourself is like. That sort of morality just doesn’t come into play with things that don’t affect anyone in the slightest - you might as well consider the morality of blinking in the shower or thinking about pizza. Whatever you personally think about it, even if you consider blinking in the shower to be the ultimate sin, to the outside world there’s simply no question of morality about any of these things.

But that’s a far more philosophical discussion than an “oh yeah I totally knew that lol” button warrants.

I don’t think I’d agree. It’s not uncommon for people to have opinions about the morality of behaviors that one does on their own that has no effect on others. You can agree with them or not, but it’s certainly not definitive. To ask another’s opinions about such a matter is simply asking for moral advice, it doesn’t automatically warp it into a question of potential community harm.

I guess you could put it this way: Is it simply wrong to cheat even if no one is harmed by it? Is cheating wrong in and of itself?
You could say: “Obviously not” but that likely means your moral framework doesn’t really deal with things that are good in themselves.
Which is obviously fine, just illustrating the difference.

I use Tsurukame and I definitely cheat sometimes, but I think about why I’m doing it. Typo where I know I was trying to input the right answer? Absolutely cheat. Something like your 木/本 example? Decent chance I might cheat, since I certainly don’t actually confuse the difference between these. If I made that mistake I’m probably groggy or something. And sometimes I’ll cheat if I make a dumb mistake where I know with good evidence it was just a dumb mistake. Like I just did 5 reviews that showed I know the reading of kanji X, then I type in some wacko reading on its 6th appearance. I might let that slide. Depends on how I feel about it at the time.

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I don’t typically cheat when I make a silly mistake between two characters (like karada and yasu(mi)), because I like to use the punishment to motivate me to pay more attention (in these cases I think it’s really needed).

I don’t think I would cheat in your enlightened case because it’s not slowing me down through wanikani. If it was something like the last kanji I need to pass a level and I make a silly mistake then I might cheat (and then maybe not if I get it wrong again later and the stakes are lower).

I always cheat if I type in the wrong reading in single character vocab and wk doesn’t tolerate it. Also when I forget the “to” but that’s no longer an issue with wk. Also when I get what it means but I can’t remember the word in English.

Basically pragmatic cheating ethics.

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But if you made the mistake you did actually confuse them. A dumb mistake is still a mistake.

It’s a mistake, sure, but it’s not necessarily a memory-related one.

Anything that gets in the way of long-term retention is a bad idea; it doesn’t matter if we want to call it cheating or whatever. Just make sure you’re not wasting your time.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11324722-the-righteous-mind there are some pretty reliable patterns, though. A comment for after you read the book (or for the chance you’ve already done so): I’m firmly on the side of care, fairness, and subversion, but when it comes to the other two, I go on a case-by-case approach (except when it comes to food - hygiene is important).

As others have noted, it’s not so much that it’s wrong. It’s just inefficient in the long term. If you are forgetting things a lot, you WANT to review them more. If you pass on that, you’ll just forget it again and then you’re not really learning it, meaning you’re going to have to learn it again and again later. It feels faster, but it’s actually slower because you’re not getting anywhere - just going in circles all the time.

This is a concept a lot of productivity writers will refer to by different names, but basically if you do it right the first time, you’re spending some extra time now to get proportionally more time back later. It’s the same concept as investing financially and it plays a big role in how WaniKani is designed to work.

That said, I think there’s room for redos if, say, your autocorrect screws you over or something. But that’s a different story.

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I didn’t address the Enlightened → Burned bit above, but I’m still pretty strict with myself there. Racking up burns is nice, but before long you have hundreds or thousands of them, so what are a few missed ones here and there? And it just means you’ll see the item a couple more times before never seeing it again. (Unless you keep getting it wrong, in which case clearly it shouldn’t be burned.)

This feels quite relatable. I also struggle with kanji that are vaguely similar or have similar elements. My latest peeves are 体 and 休. Heck, I can fail even 日 and 月 when it’s 7 am and I barely slept the night before… However, if I really need those points to level up faster, I focus extra hard.

I wouldn’t take mulligans. In the end you hurt yourself and if it was a silly mistake, you’re unlikely to make it in the future and that 1 extra “easy” item won’t matter much in the next review cycle.

EDIT: Ironically, I failed the 肉 radical today by writing “inside” (内) facepalm

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I will almost always take a mulligan in Tsurukame if its an honest typo. I also admit that in a couple cases when I was on the last review from Apprentice to Guru (and hence unlocking new content) I also cheated out of “annoying” mistakes such as typing こんがつ instead of こんげつ for 今月.

Other than that, if it’s a mistake, well, so be it :slight_smile: