Specific user synonym for 助手 not accepted

I have problem with Vocabulary 助手 - even though I specifically set that assistance is allowed synonym WK doesn’t accept it as a correct answer (I can add another synonym and it would be taken as a correct answer).
All user scripts were disabled on this page and problem still present.

Is there any reason behind this? Maybe was marked as not acceptable answer somewhere in backend epxlicitly?

Could be blacklisted since it doesn’t mean assistance. It’s a person.


Yeah, my thoughts as well about blacklist.

System should allow me to set any synonym though, I shouldn’t guess what was blacklisted or what not.

I understand that it’s not 100% correct but from my point of view it’s acceptable answer.

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Well, there should at least be a message when you try to add the synonym that you’re adding something that is blacklisted. Changing the color of the added synonym or something might be good too.

@TofuguJenny thoughts?

I don’t really see how it can be argued it’s acceptable, but I guess it’s the user’s prerogative to override the system if they want to (if, for instance, the same spelling had the right meaning in a different language)


Thanks for bringing this up! Interestingly, I don’t think this use case has come up before, but I can see it happening more as we gradually add to our block lists.

The argument for allowing user synonyms to override the block list for those who add non-English synonyms is especially powerful, I think. And at the very least, we should flag blocked user synonyms, as @Leebo says. I’ll talk to the rest of the team and let you know!


Ah, I’m pretty sure it’s come up before. We just didn’t tag any of you at the time. :slightly_smiling_face:

But you don’t really want to allow users to override the blacklist and in doing so wind up coming away with the wrong understanding of what the word means (i.e. the “from my point of view it’s acceptable answer” viewpoint).


The reason to add something to the blacklist is so people don’t unwittingly use a wrong meaning, but if you warn them and they do it willingly that’s something different to me.


Well, to be honest, I find it pretty hard for quite a bunch of vocab words to NOT come away with the wrong understanding of what the word means, mainly because the mnemonics work “around the corner”: They sometimes use the same English word but expand on a different meaning than what the Japanese word has. (Maybe it’s just extra hard for me because I’m not a native speaker, but this really annoys me.)

To clarify what I mean, here is an example (my most recent trip-up):


Wanikani says it means “To Withdraw From, To Withdraw, To Retreat”. An intransitive verb. Fine.

But the mnemonic says “You try to withdraw the enema from your patients’ 尻s (しりぞ).” Which to me sounds more like a transitive verb, i.e. to withdraw something, much like 引き出す (or even 下ろす). Which happens to be the same word in English, just the meaning is totally different.

So I don’t buy into your argument as WK already does the same :woman_shrugging:


I have also been thinking of adding synonyms in my own language for kanji I simply have trouble associating the correct English term for.

I haven’t actually gone that far yet, but I already sense that just adding more English synonyms is a bit, risky? As in, as you move up the levels you get similar meanings connected to different kanji and the original word choices were actually there to help you keep them apart.

I feel things are getting a bit messy and it’s near impossible to go back and undo the synonyms for each word I’ve already added at this point, just because some of those synonyms are now their own kanji-meaning on a higher level.

So, as an idea, it might actually make more sense to add an “own language”-synonym rather than one in English. That way the synonym won’t interfere with the correct answers later on.


Just 'cos Koichi’s bad at transitivity doesn’t mean we need to be as well. :stuck_out_tongue:


I agree that this is a problem, and we try to fix it each time we come across it. I will add 退く to our list :slight_smile:


I think allowing “wrong” user allowed synonyms should be allowed because for non native English speakers, they might have the right concept, but just the wrong word. And the concept is the important thing.


An often useful exercise when considering a case of “from my point of view it’s acceptable” is to think about whether or not it would be understood by a native speaker when used in that context. Without getting into the details of whole sentences, I think that if I used 助手 in a conversation where I want to refer to “assistance”, it would sound wrong at best, or not be understood at worst. Of course, I have the benefit of being able to try these out on my wife for feedback. Results range from her having no idea what I am trying to say, to thinking I said something different, to (most often) “I know what you are saying but no-one would ever say that/talk like that”. Of course, when trying out new vocab I learn from WK I often encounter either “no-one uses that word” or “maybe my grandparents used that word”. It is intereresting the number of vocab that I have learned where she tells me that she knows what it is but no-one uses it and when ask what Japanese use it is the English loan word. “But you are Japanese, you should use the Japanese word” I protest… “It feels like cheating to me if I just katakkanify the English word”.


I think it’s more or less acceptable from the perspective that I don’t think we should use the words we learn from Wanikani without first acquiring them through reading / listening. From that perspective it doesn’t really matter at all if a words defintion on Wanikani is correct, only that it is good enough to understand when reading. Of course assistance is a worse keyword than assistant here given that the word literally means assistant, but when reading if you see something like:


(a random example sentence from Jisho), the understanding of “assistance” is enough to infer what this sentence is trying to say. So while remembering “assistant” directly is a better option, remembering “assistance” doesn’t seem like it would harm your Japanese too badly in the long run. Especially because after encountering it a few times we should hopefully stop thinking about the English meaning at all and see it as a standalone Japanese word (I think this is one problem Wanikani has in general, forcing too strong a connection between a given Japanese word and English keyword).

Also over time the idea of 手 being a suffix for people will probably stick at a fairly early level with 歌手, 助手, 選手 and 投手 all appearing, so the most important part to remember in the long run is what kind of person this refers to, which could be worded as an “assistance person”.

Quite often I’l learn a word here only to find the meaning is quite different from what I imagined simply due to the breadth of meaning the English keywords can have, and I don’t think that’s really a problem. I guess I could avoid that by reading all the context sentences, but I really want to rush through my lessons and reviews in order to spend more time listening / reading so it doesn’t really apeal to me to do so.


IMHO the word, when blacklisted, should not be completely blocked (as incorrect) but there should only be information that this synonym is considered incorrect (and maybe mark it as such on the list).

For non-English speakers this would be quite helpful as “close enough” is just fine.


I think here we have few levels of the problem:

  1. First if WK blocklist silently overpower user synonym it creates bad UX and additional frustration that may be and should be avoided.
  2. Second is about having user synonyms that may be a bit off from the meaning but provides general idea. I feel that WK quite flexible and allow you to define your synonyms because it may represent meaning of the word better for you. It doesn’t say that you limited in your choices or something.
    As a non native English speaker I sometimes have idea about the word but can’t remember exact spelling or word that was used for the meaning (I ended up learning quite a bunch of words with WK, lol), so such synonyms quite helpful to make it easier to remember meaning - after all I still can check meanings section and see what’s located there.

After all I would say that it should be user decision whether he wants to use some made up meaning that help him to recognize this vocabulary or not.

Thanks to the @TofuguJenny for the reaction on this report, I hope solution that WK team will come up with will provide enough flexibility for the end users.


If to follow your position then we shouldn’t have user synonyms at all as who knows what user may put into their list and how it related to the meaning that was put into this vocabulary by WK team.

User synonyms here to allow users to put some word that easier for them to associate with this vocabulary/kanji (easier to remember? represent idea?) and how correct is this word is also should be user decision.


Unrelated but on some Kanji I’ve added the reading as a synonym because for some of them, the reading comes to mind before the meaning, and I quickly punch in the reading and hit send without thinking.

Somewhat related but maybe this UserScript would be helpfu: [Userscript]: Double-Check (Version 2.x) / https://greasyfork.org/en/scripts/35063-wanikani-double-check

I’m baffled why anyone would go to the effort of memorizing a translation when you already know it’s the wrong translation. Don’t think I’ll ever add a synonym that’s not directly listed on Jisho or another dictionary.
But hey, free choice.
It makes sense to allow user synonyms to override the block list.