Best Way to review burnt items

Okay, I’m finally going to tell y’all a new way of using WaniKani that I’ve been trying for a few months now. I’ve waited to talk about this because I think it might be a little bit controversial (at first glance!) and wasn’t sure anyone else would really feel the need to review burned items the same way I feel. For lack of a better name/description, I call this technique:

The ‘Rolling Reset’

First, off the top of my head:

The Alternatives

  • A normal Reset: Built-in WaniKani feature, under Settings > Danger Zone > Reset Your Account. This will reset all progress down to a chosen level (when I did it a while back, I chose to reset to level 7, for example). This includes not just burnt items, but all progress, so each item is returned to its original ‘Locked’ state (or ‘Lesson’ state if all the pre-requisites have still been retained). It also deletes all statistics, such as number of times you answered, number of times you got it wrong, etc. Also ‘forgets’ that you’ve previously burned an item, so you can no longer Unburn the item on the item’s details page. In terms of information ‘lost’, this feature is quite ‘destructive’ and cannot be undone – hence why it is in the Danger Zone.
  • Using a script, such as Self-Study Quiz: Personally, I have been avoiding using any scripts, so I haven’t tried any such scripts and cannot comment on them. I just (currently) don’t want the extra ‘maintenance’ required to install and manage scripts; I just want to go as far with WK’s built-in features as I can – it’s just easier on me. :man_shrugging:
  • WK’s built-in Extra Study > Burned Items feature: I’ve tried this one time through, and yes it does indeed work as follows: It will start (the first time) with all of your Burned items in a ‘pile’, serve up the items in a Shuffled order, and keep track of which items you’ve answered and remove them from the ‘pile’, so that the next time you do it, only those you haven’t answered yet in the current ‘pile’ are served up. Once you go through the entire pile, the next time you try it again, it will restart with a new pile with all of your Burned items again. In between sessions, if you happen to burn any new items, they are added to your current pile. Likewise, if you happen to Unburn any currently burnt items, they are removed from your current pile.

For me, while a normal, full Reset can be very useful if you need it, for the purposes of reviewing burnt items, it is too destructive. Especially, it forgets which items have been previously burned, and so you cannot manually Unburn them anymore. In a sense, all progress beyond the level you reset to is lost.

As I mentioned, personally I’d just rather try to use built-in WK features than to install and manage any scripts, and so far I’ve been able to do that, so I don’t use the script option. It may be superior in some respects to the Rolling Reset which I will describe below, but again, I haven’t used any of them so cannot offer an educated opinion.

As for the built-in Extra Study > Burned Items feature: While I use the Extra Study > Recent Mistakes multiple times per day, and I use the Recent Lessons feature give or take once per day, I find the Burned Items feature to be much less useful, and also much less pleasant to use. Frankly, it fills me more with dread than with joy. I’ve ‘burnt out’ on it, so to speak, and pun intended.

Revisiting Old Friends

In the meantime, I had run across a couple of previously-burned items in the wild and could not for the life of me remember them, even though they were actually quite simple ones, from early levels like around levels 3, 4, and 5. I was surprised at this!

So, I just decided to ‘revisit some old friends’ and I Unburned those items, which is done by going to the item page, going to the end of the page (either by scrolling, or you can use the End key on a keyboard to jump right to the end), and clicking the Unburn button. [A very important point is that when you manually Unburn items this way, the Unburn button turns into a Burn button, which means that this change is reversible! If you ever want to remove a previously-burned item from your reviews, you can! Unlike with a normal WaniKani reset!]

I found this ‘revisiting old friends’ technique to be much better than using the Extra Study > Burned Items feature, because:

  1. The Burned Items feature shuffles the entire pile, so there’s no guarantee you’ll end up reviewing the items you most need to review. You’ll end up spending a lot of time reviewing familiar items in between the unfamiliar ones, and this is perhaps why I find it ‘not fun’. Feels more grindy!
  2. Once you do come across an unfamiliar item, you only get to review it once for your current ‘pile’. If you want to review it again, you have to work your way through your current pile all the way to the end, and then start a new fresh pile with all your currently-burned items all shuffled in once again, and it may be quite a while before you get back to that unfamiliar item (see #1)!

With ‘revisiting old friends’, you only resurrect items that you want to, and they go straight back to Apprentice level 1 again (similar to what happens during a normal Reset, except you don’t have to do them as Lessons again, they just go back straight into your Review pile). So, you do ‘have to’ review these items multiple times once again – from Apprentice all the way up to Enlightened, and finally Burned – but the good part of that is that you get to review it multiple times according to the progression of the SRS system, not just once-in-a-blue-moon! That means that once you’ve re-burned this item, it will really be burned much more completely in your memory.

‘Revisiting old friends’, while it superficially sounds like ‘a lot more grindy’ than Extra Study > Burned Items, the huge difference is that it’s much more fun and enjoyable! Since this is an item you’ve previously burned, it’s actually much much much much much more easy to review this second time around. If it’s an item that you just had a brain fart with, and reviewing it once or twice brings it back to full strength, then all future reviews with it will be a breeze and you suffer almost no mental strain. In fact, since you will answer it correctly more than 90% of the time, it actually feels like a success every time you do, and you’ll re-gain your confidence that, “Yes! I really do know this kanji/vocab!”

This makes a whole lot of difference! I find ‘revisiting old friends’ rather enjoyable, in fact! So much so, that I thought to myself: “What if I were to revisit even more of those ‘old friends’, even the ones I’m not unfamiliar with? Maybe if I had some more ‘old friends’ sprinkled in during my normal reviews of never-been-burned items (perhaps ‘new friends’?), then it would actually make the overall WaniKani experience more fun, more pleasant, less stressful, and more enjoyable?!”

So, I started to Unburn more and more items from early levels, initially focusing on levels 1-6 which were the ones I had not reset when I had previously done a normal WK reset down to level 7. It actually worked the way I had hoped! I enjoyed reviewing all these previously-burned items.

Crucially, I realized that by using this technique, I no longer had any need or interest in continuing to use the Extra Review > Burned Items feature.

In essence, I had uncovered a better way (IMHO) to review burned items: Just manually Unburn them!

At first I only unburned ones I knew I was unfamiliar with; but later I started unburning more and more. Until finally, I realized that what I was effectively doing was ‘resetting’ those levels 1-6 which I had opted not to reset previously (when I only reset down to level 7). But this kind of ‘resetting’ had some nice benefits! First, I didn’t have to give up all my progress above levels 1-6. Second, I didn’t have to do it all at once! Just as many items as I wanted to, balanced out with my ongoing lessons from (by that point) level 17 and reviews from all the other levels in between. Third, I had the reassurance that this was not a Danger Zone thing – I always retained the option to re-Burn any of the items I might get sick of reviewing, and potentially even all of them if I discovered that this drastic amount of unburning would later turn out to have been a big mistake!

So, with these realizations and reassurances under my belt, I decided to just ‘reset’ all the items from levels 1-6, just so that I wouldn’t have to pick-and-choose which ones were unfamiliar-enough to unburn, and which were familiar-enough to leave burned.

But doing them all at once would have been too much at once. I only wanted to have them sprinkled into my review stack along with all my regular reviews.

So, I decided I would start fresh at level 1, unburning those, and then slowly, steadily progress to unburning level 2, and so on up to level 6. It would be like a normal Danger Zone > Reset, but there was no danger, and it wasn’t all at once. Instead, this would slowly, steadily, progress from one level to the next, ‘rolling’ along as I went, so that I would be ‘resetting’ all the items eventually. In other words, it would be …

A ‘Rolling Reset’

Simply put, a ‘rolling reset’ is when you manually Unburn items from previous levels, in order from low levels to higher levels, such that you are manually simulating doing a Danger Zone > Reset, except:

  • It doesn’t happen all at once, only at whatever pace you choose, by manually unburning as many items as you choose at any time of your choosing.
  • There’s no “Danger Zone” involved. It is actually completely reversible! You just go back to the items you’ve unburned and manually burn them again.
    • Because there’s no danger, and it’s completely reversible, this is something you can try out with no regrets! If you like it, great! If you don’t, you can undo it and re-Burn all your previously burned items no problem
  • It remembers all your progress, both on your later levels (the one’s you’re currently working on), and also on your Unburned items! For instance, Unburned items retain their previous statistics like the number of times you’ve answered them, and the number & percentage you got wrong in the past incarnation(s) of this particular item. This is very reassuring, meaning you’ve not lost any information/progress. It will all still be there.
    • A side-effect of this is that your progress as measured on (which I use a lot, btw) is also not affected. The only thing is that your previously Burned items will also be reset back to Apprentice and then continue to track their progress on WK as usual. Likewise, if you re-burn an item, WkStats will again track it as Burned again. [A benefit of using WkStats is that you can track your ‘rolling reset’ as you go. It’s quite interesting to watch it progress, IMO.]

How To

The main thing that needs to be done to perform a rolling reset is to manually Unburn items that you’ve previously burned. This can be a little bit tedious, but I’ll describe the technique I use which makes it pretty straightforward (perhaps there are scripts out there to make it even easier). And since you’re only going to be Unburning a few items at a time (think of a single Unburn as basically equivalent to doing a single normal Lesson), it’s not going to be a whole lot of tedium all at once; just a little bit at a time.

Unburning Several Items in a Row

This technique works if you’re using a web browser which allows for tabbed browsing (i.e. multiple pages open at once, each in a different window tab; most modern browsers have this feature), and have an easy way to jump to the end of a page, such as with a keyboard that has an End key. [I don’t have any mobile devices, so I don’t know how it would translate to those, sorry. Maybe someone else can figure out a way that works well for those.]

  1. The best way I’ve found which allows you to quickly see which items are currently burned, and to select which items you want to unburn, is to go to click on the Levels menu on your Dashboard page, and select the level of items you want to start unburning. For example, for a full rolling reset, you would start at Level 1. The burned items will all be black (or maybe gold if you have one of those scripts installed), and not-burned items have their usual colours.
  2. From the level page, you want to ‘select’ the items you want to unburn by opening them in new tabs. This may depend on what kind of browser you’re using, but on mine and most others I’ve seen this is easily done with a Ctrl-Click on the item you wish to open in a separate tab (a normal mouse click while holding down the Ctrl key or its equivalent). Alternatively, you can do a right-click on the item to open up the Context Menu, and then clicking on “Open Link in New Tab” or its equivalent. Ctrl-click is quite easy and you just click click click the items you want to open.
    Hopefully, this will have resulted in all the items’ page having been opened in new tabs in your browser, one next to another. This is what makes the next few steps a lot quicker and less painful than opening each item’s page individually and unburning it, then finding and opening another item’s page, and unburning it, etc.
  3. Starting at the left-most tab, go into that tab. On each item page (each tab), the Unburn button is at the bottom of the page. All you need to do is go to the end of the page and click Unburn. Luckily, this button will be at the same position on each page, so you’re going to quickly go from one tab to the next clicking on each one’s Unburn button as you do. Here’s how I do it:
    1. Jump to the end of the page (E.g. I use the End key on my keyboard),
    2. Click on the Unburn button.
      Since it’s in the same position on each page, if you’re using a touchpad (on a laptop), once you have the mouse pointer in the right position, you can just press the button, or perhaps tap the touchpad itself, leaving the mouse pointer in the same position. If using a mouse, either find a way to do this with one hand on the keyboard and the other on the mouse, or just try not to move the mouse too much each time you click.
      Once you click Unburn, the page will begin to update, telling WK to unburn the item, and will eventually refresh the page. But! You don’t have to wait for this. You can immediately go to the next tab to unburn the next item and let the current item refresh in the background.
    3. Switch to the next tab. Generally, I go left to right, so for me I use the keyboard shortcut on my browser, which is Ctrl-PageDown. You could use the mouse to click on each tab, but then it’s out of position to click immediately on the next tab’s Unburn button. The idea here is to streamline the whole process so you can do it quickly with just a simple repeated pattern of gestures.
    4. Repeat the above steps, until you’ve clicked Unburn on all of the tabs you opened.
      End, Unburn, next tab; end, Unburn, next tab; etc. …
  4. Now you’ll want to close all those tabs, as they have served their purpose. This should be pretty easy in a modern browser. If you start again at the left-most tab and close it, it will automatically go to the second tab next to it. Close that one, and it goes to the next, and so on. You can either click on the X on the tab, and just click-click-click, or use a keyboard shortcut if you like, in my case I use either Ctrl-W, or Ctrl-F4. It may also be possible to select all the tabs at once and close them, which will depend on your browser. My browser has this option, but it’s just about as easy to just tap the hotkey several times in a row.

At the end of this process, you’ll have systematically opened all the items you want to unburn, clicked the Unburn button on each of those items’ pages in turn, and then closed all of the items’ pages again.

Once you get the hang of it, it should be much more smooth, easy, and quick than if you were to try to resurrect each item by itself, one at a time. And you only really need to do this procedure when you want to unburn several items in a row, like more than two or three.

So, that’s basically the ‘hard part’ of a rolling reset, as boiled down as I’ve been able to get it, without resorting to any scripts or other kinds of automation. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with such automation, so if you have it available and would prefer it, you can use that too. But you don’t necessarily need it, you can do it manually without too much fuss.

My current strategy

As for how to manage a rolling reset over the long term (again, since it’s not all-at-once, it will be something that you do gradually over time, just as you gradually do new Lessons over time), here’s some off-the-top-of-my-head thoughts on how I’m currently doing it:

  • I generally keep to the ordering WK uses in terms of Radicals, Kanji, Vocab. So, for any given level, I will first unburn all of the Radicals (maybe not all at once) before I unburn any of the Kanji. Then I’ll unburn all the Kanji before any of the Vocab.
  • However, since I’m actually going faster with unburns than I am with new Lessons, I actually work on three levels at a time: On the ‘current’ level, I’ll be working on the Vocabs (having already unburned all the Radicals and Kanji); on the next level above that, I’ll be working on the Kanji (having already unburned the Radicals), and on the level above that one, I’ll be working just on the Radicals. That way there’s always a nice mix of Kanji, Vocab, and Radicals, and I’m still following WK’s progression, but I’m not too far ahead with any one thing.
  • The ‘current’ level (the one where I’m working on Vocab) will always take the longest, so I try to keep the progress on the next level (kanji) and the one after (radicals) at about the same ‘percent completeness’ as the current/vocab level. So, if I’m only at say 75% unburned on the vocab of level 13, then I’ll only unburn kanji on level 14 to the point where I’m still around 75% unburned on the kanji, and likewise with 75% of the radicals on level 15. It’s tempting to just ‘finish off’ one or two remaining radicals, or a handful of remaining kanji, but I find that this leads to an ever-widening gap between what level of kanji/radicals I’m rolling along versus what level of vocabs I’m rolling along, with the vocabs starting to lag behind. Since I’m trying to follow WK’s built-in progression anyway, I want the vocabs to not be too far behind the kanji, so I find it’s better to keep the kanji/radicals at about the same percentage-complete as the current-level’s vocab.

Wrapping up:

I suppose this could have been a separate post, but I was inspired by the OP’s question of the ‘best way’ to review burnt items to finally put this post together as a reply.

A rolling reset is ‘more’ than a way of reviewing burnt items, and it may not necessarily be ‘the best’ way (for me it currently is, though), but it is a different way that I’ve not heard mentioned before.

Even without the full ‘rolling reset’ – where you do all items, starting at a low level and ‘rolling’ up to higher levels – you can still use the basic idea of ‘revisiting old friends’, i.e. unburning specific items that you’ve decided you want to review from the beginning, whether because you ran across it in the wild and couldn’t remember it, or just because you were scanning items from previous WK levels and felt, “Hmm, maybe I could brush up on that one…”.

Basically, a ‘rolling reset’ is just ‘revisiting old friends’, but instead of worrying about which ones to revisit, you just revisit all of them. :sweat_smile:

Finally, after doing a rolling reset for several months now, I now feel much more confident in remembering all the items I’ve resurrected. My accuracy with those items is significantly higher; and, I’ve uncovered not a few somehow-burned leeches that had been giving me trouble in the wild, but which I’ve now ‘sorted out’ in my memory, finally resolving old confusions and doubts that had been bothering me.

[The above is all just my opinion. My preferences and goals will be different from others, so the above technique may not be useful to everyone, or even a majority of people. (In particular, it is not ‘efficient’ in terms of speed, so will certainly slow down anyone trying to get to level 60 quickly.) But if it’s useful to some others, I hope it is, and that would be cool by me. :sunglasses: :sweat_smile:]