Tips for Running a WaniKani Book Club

Vocab Sheet stuff

Is it poor design on the part of Sheets that it breaks? For example, I know in Excel, if I put in conditional formatting on a range of cells, and then a column or row gets deleted, it automatically updates the conditional formatting to follow the range of cells. (I.e., if I assign conditional formatting to F1, delete the E column, meaning that the F column is now the new E column, it will automatically update my formatting to apply to E1, since the F column shifted over. Sorry if what I’m trying to say is unclear. I hope that is understood. :laughing:)

I’ll experiment with Sheets a little today and see if I can do something about that. I wouldn’t really want to implement conditional formatting if it’s that easily breakable, but I suppose we can always just put some kind of warning/explanation on how to add that in if it breaks. But frankly, highlighting a cell isn’t really difficult to begin with, so in that case, I might rather just put in a brief explanation on how to do that, rather than complicating things a bit more (not that conditional formatting is really that much more difficult, but highlighting cells wouldn’t ever break).

I kinda hesitated for this reason also, but frankly, words seem to still get added without people being sure, and then they forget to discuss it later or mark it in some way, so the hope is that if they have it in their head in advance that they should mark it and there is an “official” way to do so, maybe it’ll cut down on that? I’m not sure, but I figure it’s worth a shot, so that’s why I didn’t disagree strongly with the change, despite it being different to how things have been done up till now.

I might just be a bit slow on the uptake this morning, but I’m not quite sure what this change is achieving. :sweat_smile:

Are you talking about if somebody has already duplicated the sheet, then decides afterwards that they want to change the color of the headers, then they don’t have to go back to each individual tab and change that? I’ve no problems adding it in, I don’t think, but I am not totally sure if I understand what problem this is solving.

Also, speaking from the “things need to match” quirk I have, does changing the heading color in this way also make the stripes change colors to match the header? :stuck_out_tongue: I’ve not experimented much with changing the colors around on the header/alternating stripes purely because the default blue I use is the one that’s easiest on my eyes, personally. I have a difficult time discerning some text-background color combos, such as black on some shades of red (or the reverse), so I tried to pick one that I hope should be fairly neutral for most folks (while being aware that things such as different types of color-blindness make it impossible for a one-size-fits-all experience) and that I could still read without squinting.

Vocab Sheet

It might be the complexity of the conditional formatting using a custom function. I’d have to try the same in Excel to see whether it breaks in the same situation.

I agree. I figured see if the idea sounds usable (having highlighting automatic based on certain user actions, such as putting in a page number without an English translation, or putting “unsure” somewhere in the note field), and if so, then see if the implementation works.

The alternative is spending the time and effort to get a working implementation, then the response is people saying, “No, that’s a bad idea.” :wink:

You might be surprised…

Note that I’m not saying we shouldn’t rely on users to change background colors. But the idea of having users add uncertain entries at all is to lower the barrier to entry, and manually setting colors adds a different to the barrier of entry. It’s not the end of the world, but one of the main things I do at work is find ways to reduce the steps co-workers have to do, so that’s my constant mindset!

I don’t mind either way.

I didn’t realize before that alternating colors come with a header color as well. That overrides what I was suggesting, as I was unaware of it.

Here's what I was typing before I realized this.

Let’s say you create a sheet with 10 chapters (for a ten chapter volume). Then you decide, since the book cover is primarily purple, you want your headers to be purple rather than blue from the template.

How many places to you need to change the color from blue to purple?

Without utilizing a theme color, it’s ten places.

With utilizing a theme color, it’s one place.

(Maybe I’m the only one who utilizes color in this way, though?)

Technically, one can set the stripes to colors in a theme, so they would change as well if the theme colors were modified.

But the easy solution is “select the colors before making copies of the week/chapter tab, and don’t change your mind after you have 10 tabs”.

I like to overcomplicate things. Don’t hesitate to ignore.

Vocab Sheet

I don’t think it’s a bad idea, but I definitely think that unless we can get it working in a way that it doesn’t break by simply deleting or adding columns, both of which are likely to happen in any given club, it shouldn’t be implemented. Fewer steps is always better, and the less that users have to play around with is always great too, but only if it works fairly painlessly.

Between both of us playing around with it, I suspect that we will find a workable solution though!

I doubt you are the only one who does it. I’ve just personally not done so because:

A) The aforementioned color issues (also just learned that white on orange isn’t a great color combo for me :laughing:)

B) I’ve only made vocab sheets for 2 clubs, so haven’t experimented much. :stuck_out_tongue:

So no changes necessary?


100% agreement.

In hindsight, my recommendation really only applies if alternating colors aren’t used, so yes, I’d say no changes necessary.


I haven’t run a book club, but…

(and I realize it’s a wiki, but I don’t want to change the first entry, because I don’t know)

one of the (more challenging for me) responsibilities is to include a section on the homepage with links of “where to buy” (preferably for paper copies, ebooks and audiobooks)
preferably all for the same version of the book (some people {needed to} do complicated comparisons between versions…gaack!)…

One thing I’d like to see in this “how to” is a quick list of shopping resources for a book club “host” to check for availability (eg Bookwalker, Amazon? ). I also don’t know whether those are country of browser specific. VPN stuff is too technical for me, but I was always able to buy from one of the several links that book club hosts had put in that home thread.

(these are times when copyright ownership being registered nation by nation is really annoying, although I think the DMCA digital millennium copyright act tried to address the global nature of the internet)


This does exist in the home page template:

I think it gives a pretty good starting place for looking for versions of the book.

Where you looking for the information somewhere else (aka did you think you’d find the info in a specific place but it wasn’t there?) or do you think this need to be expanded?


This is great. Thanks.

I had looked under “responsibilities of hosting” and didn’t see it… I should have read the whole list more carefully.


It might be worth adding a list of the most common vendors to a section outside of the template, either as part of its own FAQ dropdown (“Where can books be purchased?”/“Where can I direct others to purchase the book for the club?” or something to that effect), or as part of the “What are the responsibilities?” dropdown or somewhere else.

As it stands, if somebody is looking for that information, they have to go down to the templates to find it, which may not be the most intuitive thing in the world, since in theory one would only go to the templates once they are ready to copy and paste. I’m currently on mobile WK at the moment, or I would add the section myself, but I can always do so later when I hop on my PC.


I agree, it would make a good FAQ. It is definitely a question that comes up a lot on the forums, and something I struggled with when I started reading. Perhaps still struggling with in the digital realm. (sidebar—can you use a kindle to read Japanese ebooks? Probably need to buy one soon)


Yes, you can use a Kindle. It’s primarily what I use for my ebook reading; it works quite well. You do need to be signed into your Amazon JP account, of course, and it doesn’t allow you to mix and match with your English account, so that part is a touch annoying, but I just use my phone for my English ebooks anyhow, so it’s not been too much of a bother for me.

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Absolutely, that seems like a great idea. :smiley: (I’ll let someone else add it though.)

That was kinda the reason I asked a couple of extra questions, so we could learn where Shannon-8 looked for the info and didn’t find it. ^^


Alright I’m sacrificing sleep but we’re almost there! Here’s a list of what I altered.

  • Added lines denoting the start and end of the template so that it’s easier to find when copying and pasting from the raw text.

  • Added post title example

  • Changed “Main info and Quick Links” into a table format (I think this cuts down on some wordiness and makes it easy to quickly find the exact info you need)

  • Edited the text in both my original Home Template and this template under “Vocabulary Sheet” to match

  • Turned spoiler rules into a numbered list. Tweaked wording in rule 3 in my original Home Post template to improve clarity, and ensured the spoiler rules in both templates match.

  • Labeled the bullets after the spoiler policy “Posting Advice”

  • Took “include if applicable” out of Live Readings section. Added an instruction at the top of the templates section to remove all sections that aren’t applicable.

  • Changed some highlighting formatting to match Home Thread template, added some highlights to a few lines that need to be altered between the template and an actual post

  • Added section for proper nouns (I find these very helpful to have readily on hand when reading)

  • Added discussion questions as an optional section with examples

  • Turned “Useful Info” into “Additional Elements”

  • Updated polling options

A few things that I’d like to discuss–

I quite like the bullet points in “Posting Advice”. I do think though that the Discussion Guidelines section in general is a bit of a wall of text to have every single week though. Perhaps we hide the whole section under a details tag in the weekly posts, and put it unhidden in the home post?

Also, I know there was quite a bit of discussion about poll options earlier in this thread that I kind of ignored since I didn’t have the time to post the template. But I’ve gone back and read it, and I think the key takeaways were:

  1. Add an option for people reading along after the club has finished.
  2. Make the poll options a bit more clear while avoiding being overly wordy.

I think the options I posted hit these goals but I’m open for feedback.

Disclaimer: I have not fully proofread because I’m exhausted. I’ll go back over it tomorrow or this weekend but I’m sure you fine folks will probably beat me to it.


Yeah, it might not be a bad idea, to save some space. I worry that if it isn’t visible right away, it won’t get read, but frankly, it’s long enough that the people who aren’t likely to read it, won’t read it anyway due to the length, so there’s probably no fixing that. :rofl: I mostly included the bit about searching, for example, because it gives me something to copy and paste instead of having to type it when it comes up, not because I expect it to be adhered to without a little pushing. :stuck_out_tongue:

I also think that you’ve met the criterion, but frankly, I didn’t have any issues with the way the polls were phrased before (I really didn’t think they were all that ambiguous. :sweat_smile:), so one of the folks who had concerns about the old polls would be better poised to give you feedback on that.

I especially like the “Main Info” table you added to the top of the post by the way. I wanted a better way to organize that information, but I was blanking on a way to do so at the time I wrote it (also pretty exhausted at that point, myself. :laughing:). お疲れ様!


Just to make sure, you are talking about these, right?


In my opinion, “avoiding being overly wordy” is not exactly being met here :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: or maybe your mileage just varies :woman_shrugging:

Plus, I know I sound like a broken record, but I need to get to this again: I would be quite confused with your options because I wouldn’t know what to tick if I was not reading ahead but still already finished this week’s section :pensive:
(In case you wonder how this can happen: either by updating the reading status throughout the week, or by reading the week’s assignment during the week but before filling in the club poll)

Another thing is that you might want to point people to adjusting the weekly poll depending on whether it’s the first week or not, as the poll options may or may not make more or less sense depending on the week, and to avoid funny poll options like can be seen in the current VN reading club’s first week poll.

Here’s an example of what my polls usually look like:

First week:

Subsequent weeks:

As you can see, the two lower options change because they only make sense in the context of first and non-first week, respectively. Maybe it would be worthwhile noting this somewhere?


A few more changes after feedback and sleeping on it:

Ch ch ch ch ch ch chaaaanges!
  • Wrote a sentence synopsis of Discussion Guidelines and hid text walls behind details tags. Added the full Discussion Guidelines section to the Home Thread template without the details tags.

  • Changed “Additional Elements” to “Additional Sections” for consistent wording

  • Removed WIP tags from Weekly Thread and Vocab Sheet templates (not to say we shouldn’t keep working them, but I feel they’re getting to be in pretty good shape!)

  • Removed highlighting from vocab sheet template (since it’s not really a copy/paste template)

  • Changed poll options to Nicole’s, but kept the “I’m reading this book after the club has finished”

After giving it some thought I’m happy with the poll options that exist–they’re really not as ambiguous as I thought. They felt a little strangely worded because I had never considered that some people update the polls as they read (which is totally fine). Also to quote myself:

The purpose of this whole exercise isn’t to change a system that for the most part works great, it’s just to make it easier for people who want to get involved.

I would like to consider adding this poll option though:

  • I’ve read this book before but I’m here for discussion

I know a lot of engaged members are great about joining discussion and answering questions about books they’ve read before outside of the book club, and it’s fun to see who’s following along. It’s kind of the opposite of “I’m reading this book after the club has finished”.

I would definitely appreciate this. Perhaps the FAQ should be titled “Where can club members purchase Japanese books?” and go underneath the Natively question.

Also in the vocab sheet, would you mind coloring the word “red” red and “yellow” yellow? Nitpicky but I kind of like how that looks.


Oftentimes, there’s a note included underneath the poll (and this is my bad for not including it in the template because I spaced it) that says something along the lines of:

If you’ve already read this book but are still going to join the discussion, please select “I have read this part.”

It keeps the poll a little cleaner and still involves those who join purely for discussion and answering questions.

Thanks for the reminder! I’ll get this done today, and I like that phrasing, so I’ll nick it. :wink:

Sure thing!


Change List
  • Added the line I mentioned below the poll. If you would still rather a separate poll option, feel free to change that! I have zero investment in the way the polls are phrased as it stands :laughing:

  • Bolded some text in the Vocabulary Template description

  • Updated the Vocabulary Template with the recommended font color changes

  • Added the “Where can club members purchase Japanese books?” FAQ. I put in the most common vendors, but of course, if anybody else has others they wish to add, feel free. I divided it into physical/digital vendors and added some extra information regarding ordering from Amazon to try and prevent some issues that I’ve seen crop up with the links


(Sorry for the consecutive post, but I want this one to ping people. :stuck_out_tongue:)

Do we think this is ready to be pinned again now that we have the templates all up in a functional order?

Oh, other than I do have one question remaining on the vocab sheet; does it let y’all make a copy of it to be saved to your own drives if it’s not currently available to be edited?

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The last thing is the schedule. The template is good but I wanted to add some extra info. Here’s (basically) what I originally wrote before we changed to the template format. I’d like to include all the info here but I probably want to reword/reorganize it a bit when I get back to a computer on Monday:

Creating a Schedule

Making a schedule can be mildly time consuming, and the schedule does not need to be fully determined at the time of the home thread post. In fact, it is typical to get feedback from participants before finalizing a schedule.

Some things to keep in mind when making a schedule:

  • Natural breaks between weeks. Ideally these are chapter or at least large paragraph breaks. If breaks are not clean, be sure to annotate this on the schedule.

  • End phrases. If weeks don’t stop at clean chapter breaks, add a column to the schedule with the last few words from that week’s section.

  • Alternate versions. Include page numbers for alternate versions. Ask club members who own other versions to help with this.

  • Week-to-week consistency. Try not to have wild fluctuations in workload from week-to-week.

  • Club consistency. Try to make the pace consistent with previous club picks. Take expected difficulty into account when determining pages per week.

  • Ramp up time. For many bookclubs, it may be worthwhile to start out at a slower pace to give people the chance to adjust to a new style. This can help prevent some people from leaving the club after just a week or two of trying.

  • Special considerations (e.g. holiday breaks, shuffling or omitting short stories from a collection, etc.)

Remember to link each week in the schedule table when that week’s thread gets posted!


I am sorry, but when reading this I am still very confused regarding the absence of a clear separation between the thing that means “leading a group of readers who want to read a given book” and the thing that means “maintaining an overarching thing that will repeatedly produce the opportunity to do the aforementioned”.

The OP starts by briefly touching upon both these things, but then neither clearly explains what those two things are, nor does it split the FAQ into those two groups. That would be the minimal requirement for me to get it pinned, because as it is right now, I don’t want to point anybody to it because I’m afraid that it will cause more confusion (and also fear!) than benefit.

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I have to admit, the distinction seems quite clear to me, after reading the first FAQ… I hesitate to add any more arbitrarily defined terms (ala “reading club” vs “book club”) because it just introduces more jargon for people to learn, which makes things more cloudy, imo. (While before I was mostly ambivalent, my position has shifted after I thought on it more.)

The former definition you list is just the basic definition for what a book club is, so it shouldn’t require being defined specifically in the thread, imo. If one is in the Book Club section of a forum, one presumably knows what a book club is.

Maybe tweaking the wording a bit for the first FAQ would solve your concerns?

Something like:

“These stand for Absolute Beginner Book Club, Beginner Book Club, Intermediate Book Club, and Advanced Book Club. Each is an organizational club for the purposes of grouping potential books to read by approximate difficulty, with those books being voted on by each group. After this voting is complete, a book club is formed for the selected book using templates similar to the ones provided below. When the reading for that book is about to end, members return to their respective organizational club to vote for the next book selection.”

Does that split the definition well enough for you? This should make it clear that the book club we are providing guidance for is for individual books, and the other clubs are strictly for organizational purposes.

I do agree that the bottom question, which touches on how to run the organizational threads, should probably just be given its own section of the FAQ, away from all the other questions that pertain specifically to running the actual book club threads because it could possibly lead to the two being incorrectly conflated.

Also, happy cake day. :grin: