Tips for Running a WaniKani Book Club

I don’t agree.

For one, I think it is pretty clear in both the introduction text and the first couple of FAQ. I will admit I didn’t reread the whole thing from start to finish again.

And secondly, the best way to learn what is and isn’t confusion to people is to have people who haven’t run a book club read the OP and ask questions if they are confused.

Just a couple of posts ago, we had someone ask about something and it lead to a new FAQ question. So we know that part is working.

I don’t see why we should try and fix a problem we aren’t even sure is a problem. Also, we will never be able to make it perfectly clear, without any confusion or possible confusion. It is impossible because people are different, comes from different cultures, has English as a second, third, etc., language. And if we tried, we’d make it a lot longer, and if it becomes too long, people might get intimidated due to the length.

I think it is time to make it visible to those people who need it, and let them guide us in further edits from what confusions they express.

If I hadn’t seen this thread, and gotten the home thread template, I would never have started Orange. I was too intimidated. There was nowhere I could go to find knowledge (before seeing this thread), and I didn’t want to bother people by asking how to run a book club when I didn’t even have a club in mind to start. And I might have never gotten over my intimidation.

Instead I saw this thread and it took away my intimidation. Even in its unfinished state. And then later (a few days? a couple of weeks? I don’t know), when I saw how much interest people had in reading Orange, I felt confident enough to just start a book club. Confident enough that I went looking for weekly thread examples and put one together, because that template wasn’t done yet.

Even in an unfinished state, this helped at least one person start a book club. And now we have all the bones done, so I don’t see a reason to not have it pinned.


I also disagree :sweat_smile: even just reading the introduction and the first few dropdowns makes it pretty clear that the FAQ is all about running a singular book club (either unrelated to the recurring book clubs, or running/setting up the threads for your pick from the recurring clubs). It doesn’t touch on running the big threads at all, only in the last question, and at that point the structure of how book clubs work should be pretty clear in the reader‘s mind.

Setting up an additional split and making „running one of the big threads“ 50% of this FAQ wouldn’t be a good idea imo. Most people will probably only want to find out how to read a book with a group / what to do if their nomination got picked. People volunteering for running a BBC/IBC etc. thread probably already have some experience participating in a book club and might not need as much explaining. By catering more to those (quite rare) cases, it in turn gets more confusing for people only trying to figure out how to get started in running a singular book club.


Let’s start with the easy part:

Thank you :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

Now on to the more tricky bits :sweat_smile:

I know that y’all oppose to introducing new terms, and I got that and tried hard not to introduce terms in my post. (It’s just that my day job partly consists of teaching others to introduce clear, unique terms because it is so helpful for good communication, so it’s a bit counter-intuitive for me to let go of that.)

That’s what I was aiming at with my remark of splitting them. Maybe turn this into its own section at the bottom, even below the templates? The headline can stay the same, and then the contents of the folded question would be the contents of that section (without top-level fold), or something like that.

All I’m saying is: It’s not clear to me :disappointed_relieved: Maybe it helps if I take you on a tour of what I think when reading the OP, and maybe it gives you new insights into how things can be changed, or not. I promise I will not interfere any more after this :sweat_smile:

Breakdown of my thought process

I was actually thinking of using the title “mental breakdown” but then I figured that I’m not there … yet :rofl:

It’s all about the first sentence, really, as it sets the context for me:

This is an informal guide that contains all the information one may need to start a book club here on the WaniKani forums, or to run the club for a specific pick from the ABBC, BBC, IBC, or ABC.

I’ll show you how I read this:

This is an informal guide that contains all the information one may need to start a book club here on the WaniKani forums,

OK, so we’re talking about a book club and how to start it.


Oh, and also about something else. We’re contrasting two things here.

to run the club

Aha, this is this other thing. “start a book club” is one thing, “run the club” is the other thing.

(And as much as you want to avoid to coin terminology, it already happened here.)

for a specific pick

OK I must confess I totally overlooked this part (which really annoys me because I’m usually a very meticulous reader, so this is an annoying slippage to me. Nonetheless it happened. Now I’m curious to find out why.)

from the ABBC, BBC, IBC, or ABC.

Oh, these are the “clubs” - that’s what “running the club” means!

(I guess it happened because I was so set on “we have a contrast here” already that my mind directly jumped to this list, and I connected “running a club” to these clubs.)

Suggestion: I can now see that you want to contrast the two possible origins of a book club, but I read it as if you want to contrast two different actions. Therefore, I would rather push the contrast further towards the thing you actually want to contrast. Maybe something like this:

This is an informal guide that contains all the information one may need to start a book club here on the WaniKani forums, either because a number of people decided to read a given book together, or because a book was picked in the ABBC, BBC, IBC, or ABC.

I’m not tied to this exact wording, but I would like it to be phrased like “start a book club due to A or B” and not “start a book club or B”.

I think my remaining misunderstandings stem from the fact that I latched onto “running a club … ABBC, BBC, IBC, or ABC”, and I took this to be the context in which I was reading the FAQ. Some entries sound really weird with this context in mind, but some still seem to match, so that really got me pretty confused :sweat_smile:

Anyways, thanks to you @MrGeneric @MissDagger @Myria for objecting to me :bowing_woman: It helped me better understand what I was having issues with, and maybe it can even help improve this guide.
With that, I’m ok with having this post pinned! :+1:

  • Revised and added tips for writing a schedule under the schedule template details page, above the template itself.

  • Added bars above and below schedule template so it’s easy to find when copying plain text.

  • Removed WIP from schedule template.

  • Added “Please remember to set this thread to Watching in order to stay abreast of discussion” at the end of the weekly template.

  • Bolded the reminders to set thread to watching in home and weekly templates.

  • Edited vocabulary sheet template instructions to be in line with Google Docs’ new sharing UI

Just tested, works fine!

Alright I think we finally have what’s pretty close to a finished product! Give me any feedback you have on this last round of changes or any feedback on any other section , then I’ll plan to post a poll on Wednesday as to whether we want it stickied.



Vocabulary Sheet Conditional Formatting

We were talking about trying out some conditional formatting that would allow automatic cell highlights instead of asking folks to highlight cells manually. I may have something that works. I tested it by adding and deleting columns, and my conditional formatting automatically updated, so I’m going to post a copy here and I want you to see if there’s anything that you think would make it work a little better. (Or see how easy it is to break, because I may have missed something!)

Things I feel could be improved (and I might come back and play with it more when I have more time):

  • I have a hidden column (G) which is basically just servicing as the backbone for the conditional formatting formula. There is probably a better way to go about this (and if there is, please make that change), but it was the slap-dash solution that worked without too much fuss (I imagine we could just try and shoehorn the formula into the conditional formatting itself somewhere instead, similar to that initial temporary one you posted, though I don’t know if sticking it in there is the reason the conditional formatting breaks when you add/remove columns). If you want to see the ugly formula, you can just unhide that column.

  • That formula in the G column is dependent on the kana column being input. I couldn’t get the OR function to do what I wanted it to in Sheets like I can with Excel (it should be the same, so I feel like I’m just botching it somewhere in my tiredness), but decided that all vocabulary, even if it has kanji, will have a kana entry, so it should be fine to depend solely on the kana column having text to trigger the formula.

  • For some reason, even when I applied the formatting to all cells in range, it only wants to apply the highlight to the first cell instead of the entire row. I suspect this is because I have intentionally not locked any of the columns with the $ symbol (because doing so means that adding or removing columns breaks the formatting). I have, for now, decided to just allow it highlight only the English translation cell (since that is the cell which would require attention, anyway). If you have a fix for this that doesn’t also require locking columns, please apply it! :grin:

How it works:

  • If the kana column has text, but the English Translation column has been left blank, it will automatically highlight the cell red. Putting text into the English translation column removes the red highlight automatically.

  • If somebody is unsure about the definition, they just have to type unsure (or a different word, if we so choose) into the Notes section, and it will then highlight the cell yellow.

Book Club Vocab Template Conditional Formatting Test - Google Sheets

Let me know what you think!

Also, to note, if this is the route we end up taking, I would lock the G-column from editing. I’ve left it open for editing now because I want you to be able to play around with it, and it may end up just being removed and hidden inside conditional formatting anyway. :stuck_out_tongue:

Vocabulary Sheet Comments

The issue here is inserting a row doesn’t copy a formula over.

I figure it is.

Although, I forget where this was breaking with a formula, because I can’t get deleting an unnecessary column to break it when I put the formula into the conditional formatting now!

We can fix this. Consider the following:

You can see here, putting changing the formula’s G4 to $G4 made it apply to the whole row.

Keep in mind, the range is set to C4:G102. Changing it to A4:G102 gets the missing columns:

You can see what I came up with on the “Fritz Testing” tab, just changing the conditional formatting and removing the formula column.

Vocabulary Sheet

Ah, that is bizarre… Usually inserting a row should include the formula, but pushing it into conditional formatting resolves that issue, anyway, so no biggie.

Well, that’s what’s throwing me off here too, because:

Usually this locks the column so that when you add or delete columns, that won’t automatically update (it would stay G, even if what you wanted it to be reading was now F or H, for example), but…it’s not doing that here. So I’m not totally sure why it’s behaving that way. (Edit: Actually, no, I do get why it’s behaving that way, I think, after more thought. It’s probably because the column only locks when it’s in a formula that’s plugged into a specific cell, as opposed to something that forces it to vary, like the conditional formatting.)

It does look to be working fine now, though, and it’s not breaking after some playing around with it.

I didn’t test deleting or adding columns to your initial sheet before starting, though. Maybe I should have done and saved myself the time. :stuck_out_tongue: Is it working fine on that one now too? If not, the only thing I can think of that we did differently, is I’m pretty sure I used a slightly different formula than you as far as what it was checking.

Either way, I’m happy with rolling that out, just changing the guidelines to read:

“If you are unsure of a word’s definition, feel free to add it to the vocab sheet, but type “Unsure” into the Notes column. This will automatically highlight the row in yellow to alert people that this word may need extra attention. Similarly, if you just can’t find the definition of a word, feel free to add it to the sheet, and just leave the English translation blank. This will automatically highlight the row in red.”

@jhol (or anybody else!), thoughts on these changes before we officially implement them to the template?


I think the “trick” here is that I changed it to $A for the conditional formatting formula. Adding/removing anything within the range won’t break it so long as it’s to the right of column A.

Edit: No, wait, I’m wrong. Never mind. It was the range that I changed, not the formula’s column (as that would break the formula).

I probably didn’t have things set up correctly for selecting the whole row, as I know that removing a column broke my earlier test.


Ah, I found what the problem was before.

When adding in the kana field, the row goes red until you add in the English word.

Rather than having every row go red for a few seconds between adding in the kana then the English, my solution was to also require there also be a page number. That way the red doesn’t appear until after the English field has been intentionally skipped over.

Problem was, deleting a page number column broke my prior attempt.

However, with what I just edited in now, deleting a column doesn’t break it. The column reference does become #REF in the formula, but the formula is designed this time so it still works.


Awesome! Works great. :grin:

Although, by having that, we’ll probably want to update the wording in the guideline to mention that it requires a page number to be included as well. (This should be done by default, anyway, but you know, sometimes best just to be explicit)


On the one hand adding more functionality makes the sheets harder to modify, but on the other hand I’m also a big nerd for cool spreadsheet functionality, and it does seem to be decently robust so I’m fine with it.

I would just say that the row should be red-highlighted if there’s writing in the kanji column and nothing in the kana column (i.e. somebody couldn’t find the reading).

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Well here we are nearly eight months later and I think this guide has finally reached a point where it can serve the community in the way I originally intended! Keep in mind that even though this is no longer a “work in progress”, it is still a living document that can and should be updated based on suggestions and feedback.

Thank you to @NicoleIsEnough, @MrGeneric, @MissDagger, @seanblue and @ChristopherFritz for all of your contributions. Also thank you to everybody who chimed in during discussions to help make this the most useful resource it can be for the community.

I’ll also ping @Micki, @Shadowlauch, @Phryne, @omk3, and @Naphthalene.

I encourage anybody else who sees this to also cast a vote.

Should this topic be pinned in the book clubs category?
  • Yes
  • No
  • Eventually, but it still needs work (please explain in a comment)

0 voters


Okay! That change has been added, and everything has been added to actual template. If, after more people start playing with it, we find that something is broken, we can fix it at that time (or remove the feature entirely if it proves too problematic to deal with).

I have also updated the Guidelines sheet to reflect the correct actions. (Type “unsure” into notes column for yellow; leave either reading or English translation blank while still inputting page number to highlight the cell in red).

I included both a formatted and unformatted sheet in the template, with a note in the guidelines that if someone doesn’t want the automatic cell highlights, they can duplicate the unformatted sheet instead to allow for more flexibility.


I would say that settles it, but I’ll give it a day or two before pinging the mods in case @ChristopherFritz, @Micki or @seanblue hasn’t seen this yet and wants to vote or chime in.


Would anyone object to adding a link to the nomination post to the Home Thread template? Nomination posts have a lot of useful info, but can be a pain to find (often hidden in the Archive section of the ABC for example).


No objections here. I think that is a great idea.

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Good call. I’ll put it in when I get to a computer tomorrow if nobody beats me to it.


Well done in creating this. It looks like you’ve put lots of work into it. I like the FAQ style format. Hopefully people will find this really helpful in the future.

I don’t think not being a regular makes it that much harder to run one of the overarching book clubs. Whenever I needed to update the thread title I just asked one of the regulars to make the change. By definition one of them was always around fairly quickly to do it!


I genuinely have no idea how I would copy/paste the templates. Is it meant to be copied or just rewritten from scratch by each thread-creator?

In any case, I haven’t run a book club in a while and don’t have plans to again any time soon, so I wouldn’t worry about me too much. If you all think the current version is good, that’s what matters.

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Thanks for taking the time to read through it! I’ll update the wording a bit to make it clear that non-regulars should have no problem if they request some assistance. I know many of us (myself included) will never be regulars since we exist almost solely in this corner of the forums.