Can we talk about banned user synonyms, especially for radicals

tl;dr:
–Please give some kind of warning or indication that a user synonym isn’t going to be honored because it’s on the hidden banlist.
–Please give a shake warning when you respond to a radical with a kanji meaning.

Longer version:

Please provide some indication that banned user synonyms exist on Wanikani. It makes no sense as a user for the website to accept a synonym and then mysteriously refuse to honor that synonym. The only way I found out about them is from looking in the forum. I also persistently have doubts whenever I run into one of these about whether the synonym is really a banned synonym or if I just need to refresh my tabs or do something again to get the new synonym to take effect properly.

I a while ago reported as a bug that radical 各 “kiss” did strange things when you specify “each” as a user synonym (like reject “each” as incorrect but accept “eachh” as correct but slightly off). One of the nice customer support folks, who I’m not at all criticizing here, then had to explain in response how radicals work and that “each” is not the correct answer when asking about 各 as a radical and so on, which isn’t wrong but which I already knew.

I understand and agree that it makes sense to try to preempt people from mistakenly adding incorrect synonyms to words based on misunderstanding the definition. But I have some specific complaints about how this reasoning applies to radicals in particular.

The names of the radicals on Wanikani are arbitrary. Some of them will accept the kanji meaning as a user synonym: radical 一 “ground” accepts “one” as a user synonym, but some will not: radical 各 “kiss” bans “each” as a user synonym. Why? Some of them also seem to ban perfectly reasonable English synonyms, I guess on the same reasoning that they are kanji meanings and so should be banned, for example radical 品 “products” bans “goods” as a user synonym. Meanwhile other radicals are grandfathered in to accepting former Wanikani names, because the names are arbitrary and sometimes Wanikani decides to start calling them something else. For example radical 罒 “net” accepts “sauron” as a correct answer, even though there’s no indication of that anywhere, and that’s fine because it’s arbitrary.

In my opinion radicals do not need synonym banlists. Any name that you can correctly recall when presented with the radical is an acceptable name to use for the radical, although you may then have to come up with our own corresponding mnemonics. It also seems that some of the names used by Remembering the Kanji for certain structures are also on the banlist, even when they’re not themselves kanji meanings. This interferes with anyone who is using both at the same time, which must be a not-insubstantial number of people.

A second point, please warn when a user replies with the kanji meaning for a radical instead of immediately marking it wrong. Wanikani is usually very generous about these warnings so it’s strange that it doesn’t do this. An example of what I mean by generous is that currently Wanikani warns for responding with the kanji reading for a single kanji vocab, even though it is absolutely an incorrect answer, I guess on the thinking that maybe the user was mistakenly trying to answer the wrong question. Given that missed radicals block you from learning new things when missed vocab does not it seems like this behavior on radicals would be more important to have than on vocab, especially since the radical answer isn’t inherently incorrect as a matter of the Japanese language.

Thanks to anyone who took the time to read this :slight_smile:

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各 also isn’t even technically a radical. The dictionary I use just has it listed as a kanji meaning “each; every; either” and made up of the mouth and winter radicals, and not also a radical itself (and Goo辞書 corroborates this, listing it under the 口 radical). It’s a construction, which is also the kanji “each,” that WK uses as a radical, so it really makes no sense that they ban the kanji meanings from being “radical” meanings. It also never means “kiss.” And it makes no sense to punish people for learning 各 as meaning “each; every; either” when that’s what it actually means and then entering it as the answer for the radical (which is going to happen, especially after the longer intervals, especially if you’ve been immersing and have come across it in more than just the WK items using the kanji but even if you haven’t), when the “radical” is literally just the kanji.

This is part of why I just add “radical” as a user synonym for every single radical, so it doesn’t matter if what I learned it as/think of it as doesn’t match what WK wants. But I shouldn’t have to do that.

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Inconsistency in Wanikani? Say it ain’t so!

I agree that they are very bad at not allowing kanji meanings as a shake for radicals (or in my case, often vocabulary, like seriously the “day” kanji sounds like “ka” far more often than “hi” so why NOT give a shake for that especially when month’s “gatsu” gets a shake compared to “tuki.”) I support adding more shakes, it hurts no one!

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On that note: It would be nice if WK would give a shake for system for the 制 radical, especially since for the kanji both system and control are considered correct…

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Yeah, there is that; and this can probably be circumvented by editing auxillary_meanings. There is currently no UserScript for this, but when added “each” as a synonym, it can possibly make “each” not marked as wrong.

Nonetheless, un-overridable, hidden, blocklist (or warn, but turn to wrong when added as a synonym), is quite problematic.


Personally, I would prefer that Radical meanings always accept Kanji variants, even if they are also traditional radicals. The visible ones and the order might be different, or the first one (shown in Lessons / Info Page) might be the different.

Otherwise, non-Kanji radicals (or unpopular Kanji radicals) may accept nearest Kanji’s meanings as a synonyms.

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Or if they go ahead and enforce the philosophy, at least have a check when you try to add a synonym, and if it’s on the banned list for that term, block the addition of the synonym with a “Sorry this is on our secret blacklist for that item, you can’t do that” kind of error.

… Or even… show the secret blacklist?
Click to add a synonym, line below USER SYNONYMS goes
「*things you can’t add: “aaa”, “bbb”, “ccc”」

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When you add one it sends a POST request to the server and responds with a chunk of turbo-stream html that replaces the stuff in the element called turbo-frame. So if it’s going to the server, it should be able to perform a check, and if the synonym is no good return a prepend instead of a replace with a message saying "not added because reasons’ etc.

So programmatically I don’t see anything (peeking from the front end) preventing them from doing that, just logistically there are probably more important bugs and enhancements to take care of first.

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I just wanted to let you know that this is on the list and near the top. I can’t give a timeline as there are other things we are working on first.

The above is true for subject pages but not for lessons and reviews. However I am rectifying this discrepancy which will then allow the topic of this post to be implemented more easily.

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I am happy to give this company my money because they listen. Unlike cough Duolingo with their ‘we changed it, you all hate it but suck it’ attitude. I will never give them a cent.

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