The three rules in the onboarding guide

New Eyes

For what it’s worth, it’s precisely because I understand the “new eyes problem”1 so well that I’m fighting this hard for the change.

In effect we are currently telling “day one” newbies that lessons are more important and that they should be performed before reviews. I’m sorry, but this is potentially dangerous and frankly wrong.

Habits are hard to break, especially habits you don’t even realize you’ve formed! I’d argue that by level 4 (or even day 2) it’s too late to expect users to change their habits (or start reading documentation).

This isn’t theoretical, it happens. Not to everyone, and not always for the same reason, but often enough that I believe the proposed change is worthwhile. FWIW, there are good number of very experienced people that liked this post and apparently agree with me.

Some things you may not fully appreciate yet:
  1. Lessons and reviews you perform today will affect your workload for months into the future. Unless you keep an eye on it2, you might not even realize that your actions today caused a huge number of reviews to all land on the same day several months from now.

  2. Enlightened items won’t begin to appear in your reviews until you’ve been here for at least six months or so. For me, this happened around level 17. Until this happens you can’t appreciate the difficulty of your “steady state” workload. Only a fraction of users even make it this far.

  3. Too much workload can quickly become too difficult a workload. If your accuracy falls too far and you start giving too many incorrect answers, it becomes a vicious circle that spirals out of control.

Handling day 1

The first login is an exception and should be treated as one. The knowledge guide (even the onboarding series) isn’t just for day 1 users, though, and the once-in-a-users-lifetime case of no scheduled reviews can be handled specially. (It’s also possible to burn everything, but those folks don’t need no stinkin’ documentation.)

I wrote Rule 1 as “Do your available reviews” (emphasis added, but otherwise exactly as I wrote in the top post). Yes, brand new users won’t have any available, possibly confusing them (despite my doubts).

But I’ve no objection to a footnote, aside, parenthetical comment or whatever that says something like:

If this is your first day here, you won’t have any reviews available until you complete some lessons. [linking to the lessons and reviews page]

Re: my level

Thanks, but I wouldn’t read too much into Wanikani levels.

There are users that started already knowing quite a bit about Japanese and SRSs.

There are level 60s that got there in an astonishingly short period of time and can read anything you throw at them.

There are several scary smart users in early levels that are on their second (or third!) time through after getting to level 60.

There are also (hopefully few) level 60s that used every trick in the book to get there and can’t really read or remember much at all.

Reaching level 40, level 60, or just sticking with Wanikani daily for a year or three is an accomplishment to be proud of, but it doesn’t necessarily mean much in the real world.

1 This is a form of “lies we tell children” as I discussed in my most popular reply on this forum.

2 I highly recommend installing the Wanikani Ultimate Timeline user script, and configuring it to show the next 120 days summarized by SRS level. It can be elucidating.

Mine looks like this:

Edit: I rewrote the admonition that follows the three rules in the OP. Hopefully, this satisfies the concerns about day 1.